On Tuesday (31 January) I spoke in Parliament about my decision to vote against the second reading of the Bill that will allow the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of exiting the EU.
Watch my speech here:
I voted against the second reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill and voted against the motion which curtailed debate on the Bill. This stage of the Bill’s progress allows MPs to vote on the principle of the Bill. I do not agree with the Prime Minister's priorities for Brexit. I don't agree with the confrontational way in which she seems to want to conduct negotiations and as this is likely to be the start of an irreversible process, I voted against triggering Article 50.
Ahead of second reading, I tabled a reasoned amendment that objected to the Bill because I believe MPs or the British people should have a vote on whether the UK should seek to withdraw from the Single Market. I am deeply worried about the damage we could do to our economy by leaving the Single Market and as it's entirely possible to leave the EU, without leaving the Single Market, I think this needs to be subject to meaningful scrutiny. More people than Theresa May should have a say on whether this happens.
The Speaker of the House of Commons did not select my reasoned amendment for debate, and instead selected the reasoned amendment tabled by the Scottish National Party. I voted for the SNP reasoned amendment, as I agreed with the issues it raised; particularly that the Government has yet to publish a detailed White Paper on its Brexit plans, has failed to guarantee the position of EU nationals resident in the UK, and has not addressed the full implications of leaving the Single Market. You can read more about my reasoned amendment in this Guardian article.
I also wrote an article for the Huffington Post detailing why I cannot sign up to Britain leaving the EU and Single Market unconditionally.
I acknowledge the result of the referendum but I don't respect the process which led to it. There were circumstances in which I could have voted to trigger Article 50, but the Prime Minister killed off that prospect for me when she set out her strategy in her speech at Lancaster House on 17 January. Triggering Article 50 is one thing, pulling us out of the Single Market is another - but that's precisely what Theresa May wants to do.
The Bill will progress to Committee stage in the House of Commons, and I will support a number of amendments that would ensure proper scrutiny and debate in Parliament around the Government’s Brexit plans. Our democracy didn’t start or end on 23 June and we mustn’t pretend that it did. I will continue to argue for the best interests of my country and my constituents.