Around 50 residents gathered outside the city MP’s office on Wednesday evening to demand answers to their serious concerns over a no deal Brexit.
The group of protesters made up of residents, business owners and activists took a stand outside the premises of Gillian Keegan in St John’s Street, Chichester.
The spontaneous grassroots action came one day after a crucial vote in the Commons in which MPs ruled out a no-deal exit on October 31.
The group claimed that Conservative MP Mrs Keegan had consistently warned in public and the media about the dangers of a no deal exit but she did not join 21 Tory rebels including Rory Stewart — whom she had backed as party leader — to exclude it in Tuesday’s vote.
Among those at the rally calling for Mrs Keegan to match action to words was worried resident Laura, 54.
“Gillian Keegan appears to have gone back on her many assurances to the community that she did not and would not support a no-deal exit because of the impact on small businesses in the area.”
The midweek protest in Chichester coincided with a warning from the British Retail Consortium about food shortages and price rises in the event of no deal.
Dr Kate O’Kelly, the Liberal Democrat county councillor for Midhurst and Harting district councillor, told protesters she was demanding answers about the repeated warnings.
“Our MP likes to portray herself as a sensible, pro-business ‘moderate’ and repeatedly warned of the dangers of no deal,.
“I think we should stop Brexit, but even if Gillian Keegan doesn’t agree she should have the decency to act upon the warnings she herself has given.”
Cllr Kevin Hughes, Labour district and city councillor added:
“Mrs Keegan’s vote to save her job rather than rescue her constituents from the dire consequences of a no-deal Brexit tells us all we need to know about where her priorities lie.”
Chichester South Green councillor Sarah Sharp also commented: “We need Gillian to come to a public meeting and account for her actions and explain what her views are in public.”
The Chichester Post were unable to get a comment from Mrs Keegan before going to print, but in a statement on Mrs Keegan’s website she said:
“There are definitely challenges in the political world at the moment. I have written before about my approach to Brexit which is that we should honour the result of the Referendum but we should leave in an orderly way, with a deal.
“I have voted three times to leave with a deal. Some claim that the agreement negotiated over the last three years with the EU is not really Brexit.
“Just before recess I voted to ensure that Parliament could not be suspended in a bid to leave the EU, without a deal, at the end of October, without further scrutiny.
“As I write this column, some very highly respected colleagues have had the Conservative whip removed. This is deeply concerning and I hope that this is rectified soon. It looks very likely there will be an election in the near future so everybody will, once again, get an opportunity to decide who you would like to represent you in Parliament. Our constitution and democracy has been challenged by Brexit but ultimately you, the voters, will always have the power to determine our destiny.”