Harpenden MP faces backlash online and in-person after announcing he would support Brexit deal

Bim Afolami addressing a Harpenden meeting on Brexit, with Cllr Mary Maynard to his left.

Bim Afolami addressing a Harpenden meeting on Brexit, with Cllr Mary Maynard to his left. - Credit: Archant

Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has faced backlash at public meetings and online after saying he would back Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

Last Thursday, he addressed 230 people in the town at a meeting chaired by district councillor Mary Maynard.

Previously on November 25, he tweeted: “This deal is pragmatic. It respects the result of the referendum, protects jobs, ends freedom of movement and gives new freedoms for fishing and agriculture.

“There are risks with either acceptance or rejection. Overall, in my balanced judgement - I believe it is in the national interest.”

A number of people replied to his tweet, criticising the decision and calling for another referendum.

Several other people claimed the deal would leave the UK too closely tied to the European Union.

Mr Afolami spoke across a range of subjects at the Harpenden event, including on supporting the Prime Minister’s deal: “What I’m trying to do on your behalf, as your Member of Parliament is to try to take a risk averse, sensible, moderate approach which is what this deal offers so that is why I’m supporting it.”

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On supporting a third referendum, he said it would end up being “divisive and indecisive”; and said if the PM’s deal fails, MPs are discussing staying in the European Economic Area. This would mean access to the EU’s internal market, but no say in its laws.

After the meeting, Mr Afolami said: “I wanted to explain my views and listen to what constituents had to say.

“A no deal Brexit would be profoundly damaging to jobs, to the economy, and even to the continuity of medical supplies in certain cases.

“This deal avoids that, and it preserves our options for the future as we negotiate our future relationship with the EU.

“Some people want to overturn the result and some want to completely cut our ties with the EU in one sharp moment, with no transition period at all, which would be profoundly damaging to our economy.

“This vote is trying to steer a middle course and, although it is not perfect, on balance, it delivers.”

MPs are currently debating the EU withdrawal in Parliament, with a ‘meaningful vote’ to take place on Tuesday.