Yesterday I did something rather out of character in voting against my Party during a series of votes on the Brexit Bill. This breaks my very long-standing loyal voting record and some have suggested that this represents my attempt to frustrate Brexit.
To reassure you, I would point you to my voting record since the Referendum, which indicates my support for triggering Article 50 (which in my view is irrevocable) and beginning the Brexit negotiations. So what triggered my rebellious behaviour? A New Clause to the Bill that would have ensured Parliament had a vote on the final deal before it was signed.
In my speech I set out my arguments supporting this Clause, arguing that this vote would uphold the principle of our UK Parliamentary sovereignty that has been at the core of arguments to exit the EU; it would establish the principle of “equivalence” with other EU countries who rather bizarrely have a vote on the final terms of our deal whereas we do not. It would reaffirm the principle of representation – as democratically elected MPs it is my view that our role is to represent our Constituents and hold the Government to account.
During the course of the debate, the Minister was unable to provide the clarity on the vote we had been looking for, so a vote was triggered and so I voted for the change, knowing we would not win but feeling that it was important to vote according to my principles. I explained my vote to our superb Prime Minister in later votes yesterday evening and assured her that unlike many MPs I have never felt the need to rebel and I do not intend to make a habit of it.
During my speech I also suggested that a very few MPs who are using almost old Testament language to advocate Brexit at any price are acting like jihadis and if you had hours on your hands to listen to the debates of the last few days and months, you might be tempted to agree. For something so deadly serious for our country and so important to get right to be reduced to a barrage of anti-European, fact-free polemic is highly irresponsible and I cannot think of a negotiation at a personal, political or national level that succeeds when started by insulting and belittling the other people round the table with whom we have to do business.
It’s time to get real, get sensible and get going on Brexit.