In response to the many constituents who have contacted me recently about Article 50, the decision on who can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is now a matter for the Supreme Court. I would not want to pre-empt the decision of the Supreme Court, but I have always been clear that Parliament must respect the wishes of the British people.

There has already been a vote in Parliament on the timetable for invoking Article 50 and the decision of the House of Commons on this was overwhelming - over 440 MPs voted in favour of invoking Article 50 by 31 March 2017, and only 75 MPs voted against it. Whatever the Supreme Court may rule, I remain sure that Article 50 will be triggered by the UK and I repeat that I will cast my vote to do so, if required.   Whilst I campaigned hard for Remain, and I have not changed my mind, I also went into every letter, public statement and meeting knowing that I had voted for a Referendum in Parliament intending for it to be conclusive. I did so because I hoped that Remain would win, and I wanted my opponents bound by it.

So, I told all my public meetings that if they voted to leave then I would honour that vote, as I expected Leave campaigners to accept a Remain verdict. In the event of Leave I would vote for Article 50, although the detail of our negotiation was a different matter, and that I would make judgements upon those details as a Parliamentarian in company with colleagues and Government as to what was in the UK’s best interests.

I am, therefore, voting for Article 50 with a clear conscience. If I was to do otherwise my conscience would not be clear, as I know what I told many people and said publicly. I also think that if Parliament rejects the Referendum result then we have a constitutional crisis which we do not need.

Whatever the decision of the Supreme Court, the country voted to leave the EU and the UK will be leaving. The Government has also been clear that there must be no attempts to remain inside the EU and no attempts to re-join it through the back door.

In relation to our terms of leaving, I have been one of many voices calling for the Government to set out our parameters for negotiations. We have received evidence at the Select Committee from those who say that, firstly, the EU already has a reasonable idea of what our negotiating position is likely to be; secondly, that when we trigger Article 50 there will be a statement accompanying it to the EU; and, thirdly, that this will immediately become widely known. In addition, business voices are saying it would assist them in dealing with current uncertainties to know, for example, whether or not the Government has a view on transition.

No one is looking for the Government to set out in detail what its negotiating strategy should be but between that and the understandable desire of the Prime Minister to get the ‘best possible results’ there seems to be room for some statement indicating what the former head of the Diplomatic Service said to us would be the “high level objectives” of the UK.

You may be aware that the House of Commons debated this on 7 December and I welcome the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU’s comments:

I have said on several other occasions that we will provide as much information as possible—subject, again, to that not undermining the national interest. This is a substantive undertaking, but it must be done in a way that will not compromise the negotiation.

The nature of the debate about leaving is also important. I believe we should negotiate for the best for the UK and the EU – it is in no one’s interest if we seek to impoverish one or the other by the terms of agreement.

I hope we will have a new, long and mutually beneficial relationship with the EU as an outcome, despite us no longer being a member.