Having spent six weeks and more on the streets of Chesterfield attempting to push our Brexit policy, it is clear that the 2nd Referendum didn’t have nearly enough supporters amongst my constituents. Overwhelmingly, even those who still felt that we’d have been better off in the EU felt that the country needed to move on and that further referenda would both have undermined the first one democratically and would lead to further uncertainty and delay.
Passing the 2nd Reading of the Withdrawal agreement Bill enables Parliament to debate the bill and is the first step towards passing the legislation. It doesn’t set in stone the final agreements and Labour will propose amendments to improve the legislation which I expect I will vote for. But I feel that those fights are for the days to follow and that at this stage I needed to demonstrate that I had listened to the verdict that I heard in thousands of doorstep conversations and support the 2nd Reading of the Bill which demonstrates approval for the principle of leaving the EU by the end of 2020.
Supporting the 2nd Reading of a bill doesn’t mean that I support it in its entirety or that I am committed not to vote for any amendments. Nor am I committed to approve it at its final stage, but that was why I took the step of voting with the government on this occasion.
When even the ‘Stooooopppppp Brexit’ campaigner Steve Bray packs up and goes home, it’s time to accept that Brexit is going to happen. The ‘fight’ now is about ensuring that Brexit is not used as an opportunity to reduce environmental and workplace protections (which I fear it will be) and to ensure that Britain can continue to trade.
It is clear that with his huge majority Johnson can have whichever Brexit he wants now. However, I am aware that my constituents will still want to know how I have voted, notwithstanding the fact that the Withdrawal agreement Bill will go through with or without my support.
It was typical that Boris Johnson should choose to remove amendments on workplace protections and even more shamefully on child refugees. This was deliberately provocative and is designed to make it difficult for Labour to do anything other than oppose it, so that he can demonstrate to Leave voting communities that Labour are still attempting to block it when many Labour MPs do now accept that the fight to stay in the institution is now over.
I will continue to update my constituents with my thought process as the Bill returns for further scrutiny in the New Year.