St Albans MP Anne Main sparks controversy with ‘I will not be cowed’ statement

St Albans MP Anne Main in the controversial speech about Brexit. Picture: BBC

St Albans MP Anne Main in the controversial speech about Brexit. Picture: BBC - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Anne Main sparked outcry in the local community during a Parliamentary speech about Brexit.

On March 29, Mrs Main had three minutes during a debate about Prime Minster Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the European Union (EU).

During her speech, the vocal Brexiteer said: “I have had hundreds of emails, as many do, on this topic alone. Most of those emails - all bar 80 - are from the Remain side of the argument, because they see that the Withdrawal Agreement, with all its flaws, is the one way that they can stop Brexit.

“So today, I am changing my vote, because I am not going to be cowed into a process that means on Monday I am expected to make a choice on somebody else’s selection of what they think Brexit should mean.”

She said she would not chose “based on something that has had no debate and no scrutiny, and because a Remainer Parliament is hoping against hope” that the deal will fail.

Mrs Main has since argued the two points were unrelated - about emails and being “cowed” - but members of the community have interpreted it differently.

Chair of Remainer activist group St Albans for Europe, Fiona McAndrew, said: “She has decided to vote for the agreement, when previously she voted against it, as she will not be ‘cowed’ by her constituents. So our elected representative changed her vote, going against her own views, to spite her constituents. This is absolutely shameful.

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“MPs may well have sincerely held views which are at odds with their constituents - which is one thing - but playing games in this way really calls into question whether she is worthy of being St Albans’ MP when she has so little respect for the people she was elected to represent.”

A clip of the speech has gone viral on Twitter, with nearly 2,000 retweets and 4,000 likes - many pointing out that St Albans district voted Remain in 2016 by more than 60 per cent.

One responder, using the handle @BonehouseWasps, said: “She seems to completely misunderstand the responsibility of the office to which she has been elected. I find this truly shocking.”

Another Twitter user, @sturdyAlex, said: “Unbelievable hypocrisy...”

@ridderz69 added: “Literally her job is to listen to HER constituents, not the constituents from the other end of the country. Phenomenal abrogation of duty there.”

The Withdrawal Agreement is a controversial document - Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for the Prime Minister’s resignation over it and stated there should be a General Election.

Resident Stephen Lambert said: “Anne Main appears to be deciding how to vote based on consciously opposing what she perceives as the majority view of her constituents.

“There may not be a worse example in the UK of an MP deliberately misrepresenting their constituents on the most important political issue in the UK for more than 50 years.”

The Withdrawal Agreement was rejected once again by Parliament last Friday and indicative votes since have failed to provide any clear pathway for Brexit’s future.

Mrs Main said: “On Friday I had to sit in the debate for four hours when I was finally asked to speak. I was given just three minutes to make my case.

“Whilst I didn’t get the time to elaborate on my point, I have also received hundreds of emails asking for us to leave the EU without a deal too.

“To clarify, when I said I won’t be cowed, I was talking about MPs who have taken over the Order Paper to hold indicative votes to force a softer Brexit. Nothing to do with my previous point about emails received regarding the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Mrs Main posted a lengthy statement on her website about Brexit. An excerpt reads: “We must keep the ball rolling in the direction of withdrawal, rather than listening to a Remainer Parliament that is doing its level best to frustrate us leaving the EU.

“No deal now appears to have been taken off the table and I believe Parliament will now push for a much softer version of Brexit that will tie us to major aspects of the EU with no voice, vote or veto.

“I am so disappointed that this deal is now our best option but I have always said I will not duck the difficult decisions as your MP.”

She said MPs from across the house have “tied the hands of the government” and that Parliament has “taken control of the process and is now acting as a ‘backbench government’”.