I campaigned to remain in the European Union; but on 23rd June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted by a majority to leave. That is exactly what we now have to do.
Although it was not a huge margin, as many constituents have pointed out, it was a clear result nonetheless; and immediately after the result was announced, I released a statement confirming that I would be respecting the outcome of the referendum. My position has not changed.
I believe that it is incumbent on us, as Members of Parliament, to act on this instruction and implement the will of the British people.
The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, before the House of Commons this week, seeks to confer on the Prime Minister the necessary power to give notice of our withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union – abiding by the judgement of the Supreme Court.
To be clear, this is not a debate about whether or not we will be leaving the EU; this question has already been settled. Nor does it determine the UK’s negotiating objectives for forging a new path for our county outside – but working in partnership with - the EU; these have been outlined separately by the Prime Minister, with our plan due to be set out in a White Paper published for the House of Commons.
I have received representations from my constituents in anticipation of this week’s Bill: some imploring me to vote for the triggering of Article 50; others urging me to vote against. The consistent theme running through this correspondence is an instruction for me to vote with my conscience. This is exactly what I intend to do.
In 2015, Parliament voted by a margin of six to one to grant the British people a referendum on our membership of the EU; more recently, the House of Commons voted by a majority of 373 to invoke Article 50 by the end of March.
This is a timetable and a process with which I agree, therefore I will be voting in favour of the Bill before the House.