LEAVING the European Union is one of the biggest decisions ever taken by the electors of this country and I believe strongly that as a democratic nation the outcome of that referendum has to be honoured by Parliament.

Basingstoke’s vote reflected the national vote exactly: 52 per cent Leave and 48 per cent Remain.

The huge amount of Brexit-related correspondence I continue to receive every week shows how divided local people continue to be on this issue.

Two years on from the referendum being held there can be no doubt that in Basingstoke opinions are strong and feelings continue to run high.

Those who voted to leave the EU tell me they did so for many different reasons but overwhelmingly people wanted to see important decisions about the future of our country, control of our borders and decisions about our laws, made in the UK by people accountable to the British voter not in Brussels by unaccountable bureaucrats.

It is, of course, those selfsame bureaucrats who are now in charge of negotiating the terms of our departure from the EU.

We therefore shouldn’t be surprised that they appear to be making the process of leaving the EU as difficult as possible.

The complexity of disentangling our laws and regulations from those of the EU cannot be underestimated and we shouldn’t be surprised that this negotiation has been as tough as it has; but let’s be clear, the EU doesn’t want any other member state to follow Britain’s lead and they appear to be willing to make the process as challenging as they can.

I personally voted to remain in the EU, mostly to help protect the political stability we have seen in Europe since the Second World War.

But, however any individual voted it is now time for us all to come together for the benefit of our community and for the future of our country.

This departure from the EU is a Herculean task but our country faces many other pressing problems that are now being sidelined as the Brexit debate rumbles on into its fourth year.

We can’t allow Brexit to eclipse much-needed progress on reform of social care, the NHS and continuing to drive up standards in schools.

We need to complete the job of leaving the EU and move on so that Parliament, MPs and government can focus on other pressing issues too.

That is what I will be urging the government to do in the days and weeks ahead.

Maria Miller MP