I would like everyone to know that I intend to vote against the Bill to give the government the power to invoke Article 50 to trigger the process of the UK leaving the EU.
This vote takes place next week and there will be further votes and debates the following week.
This decision was taken after very careful consideration of all viewpoints, consulting widely including an online survey of constituents’ views on this, doing a great deal of research, speaking in House of Commons debates, putting down oral and written questions to the government about the detail of how they plan to build new relationships with the EU and other countries (and getting very poor replies) and much thought.
I respect the result of the referendum just as I respect the result of the General Election, but that does not mean I need to vote with the view of the 52% of voters who voted leave, any more than it means I should vote with the Tories regularly because they won the 2015 General Election.
I understand that many of my colleagues represent constituencies that voted overwhelmingly to leave and that they are supporting their constituents.
People in Bristol West voted overwhelmingly to remain. I have conducted an online survey over the past fortnight to see what they are feeling now and the overwhelming majority of the 1,500 or so Bristol West voters taking part want me to oppose Article 50.
Consulting people is important but it is one consideration amongst many. I am in Parliament to use my judgement and to make sure it is as well informed as possible. I am doing just that.
I have consulted the employers in my constituency such as the university, hospital, creative and digital industries, aerospace and finance, between them accounting for thousands of good jobs, now and hopefully in the future. They have all told me about the benefits they currently get from full membership of the EU and Single European Market and the risks of leaving these. I was prepared to consider the UK leaving the EU if we could remain a member of the Single European Market. The Prime Minister has now ruled this out. A majority of the people who voted have voted to leave, but they did not vote to lose their jobs. This position puts millions of jobs, the running of our hospitals, the research in our universities and the trading by our industries, all at great risk.
I respect hugely how Keir Starmer and my colleagues on the front bench are working and trying to build a consensus around which we can as Labour MPs represent some of the most leave-voting as well as some of the most remain-voting constituencies.
If, as seems likely, the Article 50 vote goes through, I will be supporting amendments Keir puts down for Labour to protect workers’ rights, environmental protection etc now and in the passage of the Great Repeal Bill.
I continue to collect views of constituents on my online survey until 7pm on Tuesday 31 January 2017.http://www.debbonaire.co.uk/how_should_i_vote_on_article_50
Thank you all for your advice, challenges and support.