The article that I have sent to this week’s Derbyshire Times in response to an enquiry about how I will vote on Article 50 ratification
This weekend’s deliberations ahead of the vote that will take place on whether to trigger Article 50 have been amongst the most tortured I have faced in my time as an MP.
To many, the issue is a straight-forward one. Britain voted to Leave the EU (as did Chesterfield) and the invoking of Article 50 is the parliamentary ratification of that vote. As a democrat, whilst being disappointed by the outcome, I respect it, and accept that Britain must get on with negotiating our exit from the EU.
However, accepting that Britain will leave the EU is not the same as accepting that Theresa May, an unelected Prime Minister who voted Remain, is the only arbiter of the terms under which we will leave. I am horrified that she appears complacent about the impact that leaving the EU single market will have on our economy, and the speed with which she appears willing to jump into bed with Donald Trump’s dangerous and divisive vision of Anglo American relations.
The image of our PM holding hands with the President, moments before he invoked an arbitrary order to ban Muslim refugees from seven countries, is an image that will haunt those who feel proud of Britain’s historic role in fighting the rise of Nationalist extremists, and promoting international co-operation.
Meanwhile, the vote will take place before she has produced the White paper which outlines her government’s approach to getting the best deal for Britain. I also feel she missed a trick by agreeing to trigger Article 50 without insisting that Britain could start negotiating with non-EU countries alongside our EU talks which will reduce the strength of our hand in those negotiations.
However, despite my many misgivings about the approach that the Government is taking, it would be disingenuous for me to overlook the extent to which last June’s referendum was a rejection of the ‘political establishment’ view. In that context, I feel the argument that says that we must allow those negotiations to begin in line with the outcome of that vote is a compelling one. Whilst I will vote for amendments that seek to protect our National Health Service and safeguard our economy, I will support the Government’s desire to invoke Article 50 at this week’s 2nd Reading vote.
I will also be fighting Chesterfield’s corner throughout. Leave campaigners promised that there would be more money not less for our vital public services and regeneration projects, I will be insisting those promises are honoured. None of us can be certain what the future holds, but my fight is to retain what is dear too us, not to fight the outcome of a campaign that is already over.
So I will vote to honour the referendum outcome this week, but Theresa MAY be sure, there’ll be no blank cheque on her vision of Brexit from me.