I voted remain in the referendum not for any nostalgic or ideological love of Europe but more a pragmatic belief that it was not the right time to attempt leaving. However the point that has been overlooked by some in this chamber – the most fundamental point to remember is that the vote on Article 50 is different in one way – it is not our decision.
We have a duty as democrats and fundamentally as Member of Parliament to enact the result of the referendum.
Wiltshire voted out but we do not have data for the Chippenham constituency – we believe from watching at the count that it was tighter than the county’s vote. Regardless this was a decision for our country, by our country and not a regional or constituency based vote.
I have not changed my mind and yes I sympathise with those still pushing the ‘remain stance’ but it is important to remember that the referendum was in the Conservative party’s manifesto – the one that we on these benches was elected on.
I was proud to vote in Parliament to have a referendum and promised voters that we would honour the result.
Time and time again it was made abundantly clear that the result of the referendum would be final – ‘no ifs and no buts.’ Well when I make a promise to my voters I keep it – no ifs and no buts.
To me this debate is less about triggering Article 50 and more about democracy.
The mere suggestion that we could consider ‘riding roughshod over democracy’ and destroying what is left of the British public’s faith in politicians is quite frankly absurd. Yes we can all think of loopholes and justifications to rationalise voting against the referendum result but surely it is a sad state of affairs when it comes to that.
It is patronising to claim that people did not understand what they were voting for.
It is not for MPs to say that our view ‘of what is in the national interest’ is worth more than that of the people, especially when we gave the people the decision. Referendum results like election results need to be honoured to uphold democracy.
I will let you into a secret Mr Speaker every time the labour party has a won a General Election I have believed that having them in power is ‘not in the national interest’ but I didn’t question the legitimacy of the result nor did I ask for re runs until I got the answer we wanted. I respected democracy and this should be no different.
It also important that we do not also distort the meaning of this debate. This vote should not be turned into a pro or anti-immigration vote – just a recognition of the public’s vote which reflected in part a desire to take back control.
There has been a lot of talk in this debate about immigration and the end to the free movement. Members have frequently spoken of the cultural and economic benefits of immigration and I wholeheartedly echo this message but I do seriously question whether it can only be achieved via European immigration. The free movement scheme disadvantages those from our former commonwealth and the wider world who in my opinion had the same right to an opportunity here as those in Europe. It ‘binds our hands,’ gives us no grip on immigration or the ability to link it with skills and economic needs.
So it deeply saddens me that some have sought to use this debate as an opportunity to suggest that some members and our public are anti-immigration.
Mr Speaker we must remember to be clear – let’s not misguide the public. This vote is not about the details – that will come with the white paper, further debates, the Repeal Bill and many votes.
This vote is about starting that process – yes we could spend several more weeks speculating about what we might be able to negotiate but that won’t change the referendum result which makes leaving the EU inevitable.
Our economy and businesses now need certainty – the last thing they need is another referendum or endless speculation and delay.
Now is the time to get on with the job, be positive and work together to get the best deal for Britain.
Today we will vote but as I said earlier Mr Speaker the most important thing to remember is that the decision has been made. We have a duty to honour, promises to keep and we need to show the British public that we can listen, we can be in touch and we are a parliament for the people not a parliament superior to the people!