Seafront Development
October 3, 2018
The Budget
October 31, 2018

It was reported in the media last week that the millionaire
businessman Arron Banks intends to write to every voter in the
Folkestone and Hythe constituency criticising me over my position on
Brexit. Mr Banks has no connection to this area, he lives on his
country estate near Bristol, spends part of his time tending to his
mining interests in southern Africa, and visiting his private offshore
bank on the Isle of Man. He and his associates have also met
frequently with the Russian ambassador, and with business people from
that country, which has led to questions about whether or not he has
any interests there; something which Mr Banks has denied.

Mr Banks claims in his letter that I do not respect the result of the
referendum, yet cannot offer any evidence to support this claim. There
is a reason for that, and it is because I have voted with the
government in support of delivering Brexit at every vote in the House
of Commons since the referendum. Also, I have never advocated having
a second referendum on our EU membership.

Mr Bank’s big complaint is that he was questioned by the Select
Committee that I chair, and he doesn’t like being held to account in
this way. It is claimed that he has donated the largest amount to fund
political campaigns in this country in history, and I think it’s right
that we should question him about where the money came from and how it
has been used. It’s not just my committee which is looking into these
matters, there are also investigations being run by both the Electoral
Commission, and the Information Commissioner, the body that polices
the use of data in campaigns on social media, and across the internet.

When Mr Banks was asked recently by Channel 4 News whether he was
trying to put the frighteners on MPs by writing to their constituents
in this way, he said, ‘there is an element of that.’ Well, I’m not
going to be intimidated out of doing my job by him. MPs should use
their position to question and challenge people of wealth and
authority when there is a clear public interest in doing so. That is
something I will continue to do as MP for Folkestone and Hythe, and
Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

This week, the Prime Minister returns to Brussels to continue the
negotiations on Brexit. These talks are not about whether we will
leave, that will happen at the end of March, and was fixed in law when
parliament passed the EU Withdrawal Act. The ongoing negotiations are
about our future relationship with Europe. I don’t believe we should
stay in the European Single Market or the Customs Union, but instead
develop a free trade agreement that allows goods and services to flow
across our borders as freely as they do now. I would not support a
Brexit deal that would see Kent’s roads permanently blocked with
queuing lorries trying to cross the Channel.

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