FOLLOWING the heavy parliamentary defeat of Theresa May's Brexit plan, the time has come to review the mantra that 'Brexit means Brexit', and to ask why the quest for Brexit arose – and why it persists.

As I see it, the main objections to Britain's continuation in the EU project, whatever the detail, are all ultimately linked to retaining a semblance of an independent national identity with a unique culture in an increasingly interconnected world.

Ever since we joined, Europe has been on the path to something called Ever Closer Union. I well remember voting to stay in Europe, back in 1975, when I was voting to be part of a common market.

Any suggestion that I had also been asked to vote for Britain to be part of a political union had not been top of the agenda, and I was dismayed when subsequently I was issued with an EU passport instead of a British one.

I share with the 'leave' campaigners of 2016 a desire to protect our country from further European political integration, and to increase or at least retain powers for our national Parliament. In the 90s, I supported the "keep the pound" campaign, so as to retain a means of controlling our domestic economy, and like the leavers, I still do not support any suggestion we should join the Eurozone.

Rather than pitting us against each other over a false divide, it is time to acknowledge and examine the common ground between leavers and remainers.

Our Parliament needs to look again at David Cameron's deal to remain, so that the split in the country can begin to be healed, and potential break-up of the UK can be avoided.

Instead of devoting her skills to a negotiation to leave the EU, Theresa May should be persuaded to devote her skills to a negotiation for 'staying in'. Perhaps, she could even improve on the terms of the deal with Europe that her predecessor announced. It is certainly a good basis for negotiation with Donald Tusk, as it had his approval in 2016.

As 'a reluctant remainer' at the time of the Referendum, I have long favoured and still hold the view that Britain's interests are best served by being 'In Europe - but not run by Europe'.

Cllr Roger Mace

Kellet Ward

Lancaster City Council