Supreme Court Judgement and Article 50 vote in Parliament 24th Jan 2017
The decision of the Supreme Court that Parliament, rather than the Government acting alone, has the right to trigger Article 50 is one that I welcome. The British constitution needs the rule of law as well as Parliament, and our democracy is strengthened by the essential work of our judges. Their view, based solely on matters of law, not politics, gives the authority to Parliament to respond to the Referendum, and must be followed.
When the Bill requiring the triggering of Article 50 comes before the House of Commons, I will vote for it. During the Referendum campaign, I strongly advocated that the UK should remain in the EU. I have not changed my personal view on that. But I also campaigned on the basis that the Referendum Act for which I voted provided a clear choice for the people of the UK as to whether or not to stay in the EU. I expected my constituents to abide by the result, and I gave a similar assurance that I would do so. That assurance was without condition, and I intend to stand by it.
I do appreciate that those who voted to remain in the EU would prefer that I did not vote to trigger Article 50 but for the reason I set out above I will not do so. The decision of the Referendum was narrow, but clear, on a significant turnout of voters.
But as I also promised constituents, one of the reasons I left ministerial office in July 2016 was to commit myself to ensure that I did all I could to make the very best of the situation in which the people of the UK have put themselves, with both opportunities and difficulties. I stood for the Select Committee overseeing the Department for Exiting the EU, and was elected to it. I am therefore working with colleagues who took different sides in the Referendum campaign to achieve the right outcome for the UK.
I take the view that although the result of the Referendum was clear, there was no mandate for any of the terms of leaving, or the terms of a new relationship with the EU after we have left. I support wholeheartedly the Prime Minister when she says she is working for a good negotiated settlement with the EU, which will involve compromise on both sides, as we look for a future with a secure and prosperous EU. I will do all I can to help achieve that. I will be watching the process very carefully, and how the best interests of all in my constituency, whatever their walk of life or situation, can be secured, and will take part as much as I can.
I look forward to both keeping constituents informed, and listening to them about what they are looking for, as time and this process goes on.