I have always been a proud pro-European, and I am honoured to represent Bristol West – a constituency where 4 out of 5 people voted to remain in the European Union in 2016 – as your MP.
So I am delighted that Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed today that whoever wins the Tory leadership contest, they should put their proposed relationship with the EU to a public vote. And in that circumstance, Labour would campaign for Remain.
Since the referendum, I have consistently stated my belief that the best possible relationship that we can have with the European Union is full membership. And in my role as Labour whip I have worked hard for the past 3 years to support Keir Starmer to keep that possibility alive.
If it had not been for Labour MPs, we would have left the European Union without a deal on March 29th. This shift in policy has only been possible because – thanks to my fellow Labour whips and I – we are still in the EU.
Over the past three years I have stood up for Bristol West and taken every opportunity to give voice to your concerns about the government’s proposals for our departure from the European Union. Over that time it has been clear to me that no deal that the Tories could negotiate would deliver the jobs, the rights and the benefits that our full membership of the EU gives to Bristol West.
As the Labour MP for Bristol West – and a Labour whip – I have been in a unique position to put this case to the party’s front bench and thereby influence party policy. I have worked very closely with Keir Starmer and the shadow Brexit team to find parliamentary mechanisms to challenge the government. That work not only resulted in three historic defeats for Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, but it also provided the opportunity for parliament to thwart any threat of leaving without a deal in March.
I am proud of what Labour has achieved so far, but we must not be complacent. There is still much more work to do if we are to secure the public vote that gives us the opportunity to remain in the European Union. I desperately want us to remain in the EU, and my party agrees that that is the best option for jobs, businesses and families across the country. I will take every opportunity to campaign for us to remain in the EU, and I am proud that the Labour Party will be leading that fight.