In recent weeks I have been contacted by many constituents who have expressed their views with regards to the UK leaving the European Union.
I have heard passionate examples from both sides of the argument and since the High Court ruling last week, where it was clarified that Parliament must give its approval before official talks begin on exiting the European Union, the volume of correspondence to my office has increased.
I feel therefore, it is important I explain my position on this significant matter.
Having served as a delegate on the European Council I have seen first-hand just how important close working relationships are with our European neighbours. I campaigned passionately to remain in the EU and was disappointed with the outcome of the referendum last year.
However, I respect the decision of the country and as a democrat I do not think that we should be campaigning for another in out referendum. I also respect my colleagues, constituents and the country as a whole and the debate from both sides.
The Labour Party is split on this issue because as a party we seek to represent the views of the whole country- not the 48% or the 52% - but the entirety. As we know, the country are also split on this matter.
Despite this, it is palpably clear that the Labour Party is united on fundamental issues that face our country and we will unite; as you have said many times, around the important issues of jobs, health, security, economy, rights and social justice.
I have made clear on many occasions that if I were given a vote in Parliament, I would vote to remain in the EU. I am proud to represent Brent Central and I am proud that we voted to overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and will vote to reflect the views of my constituency who elected me to be their voice in parliament.
I do not have confidence in Theresa May to negotiate the best deal for the UK.
I place my confidence and trust in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and the whole Shadow Brexit team to hold the government to account every step of the way and I will support Labours amendments as they hold the Government to account.
I understand and appreciate the logic of allowing a second reading in order that amendments can be discussed at third reading and voted on at committee stage - amendments that will hopefully ensure:
- Tariff-free access to the Single Market to protect jobs and our economy
- The protection of social and environmental rights,
- Security for EU citizens currently living in the UK
- A meaningful vote at the relevant stage of the negotiations
Jeremy Corbyn has successfully moved the Government from their position of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ to one that has seen them agree to bring forward a white paper for parliament to properly scrutinise.
However due to my lack of confidence in Theresa May, I have decided that I cannot in good conscience vote for something that I believe will make my constituents worse off.
It is with all of this in mind that I am informing you of my decision to vote against second and third reading.
My position is clear and has not changed since the referendum last year, however I will continue to engage with colleagues and constituents on this hugely important matter. This has been a difficult process which has invoked strong reactions from people on both sides of this debate and it is very important that we heal the division that has resulted from this debate.