I have always believed we should stay a full member of the European Union. I believe most people in Bristol West agree with me. But to achieve that aim we have to get the process right.
Many of you writing to me asked me to vote against the Prime Minister’s ‘deal’ to leave the European Union. You also asked me to vote against no deal, extend Article 50 and push for a public vote. I agree with you on all four things.
That is why, on Tuesday, I voted against the government’s deal (again) and helped ensure a massive defeat. On Wednesday I voted against leaving the EU without a deal, and again helped ensure the government was defeated. And today I voted to delay the date the government wants to take us out of the EU.
That leaves Labour in a good position to support the plan put forward by my colleagues Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, to hold another public vote between the Prime Minister’s deal and remaining in the EU (if successful I will of course be campaigning hard for us to remain in the EU).
Many of you have written to me to ask me to support the amendment proposed today on a second public vote. However, in line with the campaign for the People’s Vote, the priority today was rightly extending the date of departure – and parliamentary procedure meant that these two choices were incompatible.
Because I support remain, I want the best possible chance of success. And to do that we need to secure a stable timetable of events. So today I focused on winning the vote to instruct the government to delay the departure date.
The People’s Vote campaign agrees with this sequence of events. Their spokesperson told the Evening Standard today:
“Labour has been right to oppose the Prime Minister’s deal and a “no deal” Brexit, as well as to promise it will campaign for a new public vote when other Brexit options have been explored. Today is not the time to press for a People’s Vote or, indeed, rule it out. Instead, this is time for Parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 Brexit deadline so that after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiation, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.”
The People’s Vote campaign has also posted a more complete statement on their website giving their reasons for this strategy.
I know that many of you will be understandably frustrated with what is happening in Parliament right now. But please be assured, it is precisely because I want us to remain in the EU that I am spending every possible moment on the most effective strategy to achieve this.
I have always believed we should stay a full member of the European Union and have spent a large part of the last three years fighting the Tories’ disastrous mission to leave the EU. I support another vote on EU membership, and if this happens, I will do everything I can to help win it for ‘remain’.