IT is the debate which has divided a Government, the United Kingdom and Cumbria itself. Barrow voted to leave the EU by a majority of more than 7,500, while neighbouring South Lakeland voted to remain with a majority of 3,700. Love it or hate it, Brexit remains the number one political topic of 2018. With the outcome far from certain and the clocking ticking towards Friday, March 29, local politicians give their views on where Brexit will go in 2019. By local democracy reporter ELLIS BUTCHER.

David Pidduck, Labour leader of Barrow Borough Council

“My instinct says I wish I knew where Brexit was going to go! I am still hoping someone knows where it could go. Obviously, I voted to remain. Not for me, but for my daughter and grand-daughter. They look at Europe in a totally different way and I was really disappointed with the result but it’s the people’s vote and we have to live with it. Barrow voted to leave and I think many people here still hold that view and want to come out. I think some people thought we would leave Europe on Friday and be Britain again on Monday with everything sorted out. I remember saying to my wife that it would take a minimum of 10 years to sort out negotiating some of the deals involved. It was never going to happen overnight. I don’t think it has gone the way people thought it would and it’s really worrying. We have a large agricultural sector in Cumbria and we have tried to look at the impact on it. I keep looking over my shoulder hoping someone will come up with the answer but they haven’t so far. I thought Theresa May did the right thing by putting those who campaigned and voted for Brexit in charge of the negotiations. But they’ve all come along and done their bit and then backed away. She has been left holding the baby.”

Cllr James Airey, Conservative Group Leader for Cumbria County Council

“A wise man once said you should never make predictions, especially about the future. The twists and turns of Brexit are certainly keeping pundits busy on the prediction front. Despite all the noise, there are 17.4 million reasons why the UK will leave the European Union. The 17.4 million people who trooped to polling stations across the UK in 2016 to instruct our political leaders to leave the EU, was the biggest vote in the history of our democracy. The message to the nation’s politicians was clear: our parliament must take control of our borders, our money and our laws. In an increasingly complex world, people want to be able to hold their parliamentary representatives to account and know where the buck stops when election time rolls round. Leaving the EU will put accountability back into our parliament and power into the hands of ordinary voters. The Brexit referendum was the largest democratic exercise our country has ever undergone and ignoring it would send a terrible message to the world and, most importantly, the people of Britain. I know many people who voted Remain feel strongly. But equally many people who voted Remain want our politicians to respect democracy and move forward as a nation. The only way to predict the future is to have the power to shape the future. That is what leaving the EU will enable us to do and why we will Brexit.”

Cllr Peter Thornton, Liberal Democrat Group Leader for Cumbria County Council

What’s your memory of that morning of June 24, 2016? Mine is of round the clock TV news and the horrified faces of a Government who had campaigned to Remain and the even more shocked Leave campaign. No-one knew what to do next and we entered a period of chaos dominated by Conservative politicians exiting the stage as quickly as possible leaving just one woman standing. Two years later and MPs have had a second vote on their decision to choose Theresa May, whilst denying the voting public the chance to look again at our decision to leave the European Union.

No-one could make it up, and who knows where we are heading? In real life would any of us refuse to review a decision made two years ago, which was leading to such confusion and uncertainty? There are just three ways ahead. The Prime Minister’s “deal,” no deal, or to remain. Let’s take this back to the voters and let them decide. There’s nothing anti-democratic about revisiting a democratic decision. A people’s vote would be much more democratic than MPs trying to guess what we really meant on that momentous day over two years ago. I voted Remain, and would vote the same way again, but I accept that the nation chose differently. I certainly don’t assume that the result would be any different now, but it would be a better-informed vote for all of us and could lead to a rapid conclusion to this tortuous process.