One of the arguments from Brexit supporters was that it would return sovereignty to the UK and to our Parliament. Whatever your view on Brexit is, whether you want no deal, another referendum or a deal, this is a decision that must be taken by our sovereign Parliament. It would be fundamentally undemocratic if any of these outcomes were to occur without the direct approval of Parliament.
Yesterday the House of Commons considered an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill which would make proroguing Parliament to secure No Deal impossible. Despite being a Government Minister and being asked to vote against this, I chose to abstain.
Parliament must continue to have its say over the Brexit process, and I am pleased this amendment passed to make this possible. This builds on my work with colleagues of all parties since the 2016 referendum to deliver accountability to Parliament:
- Ensuring Parliament would have control over the Brexit process by requiring Parliamentary approval for the Withdrawal Agreement.
- Developing a procedure and timetable should the Withdrawal Agreement be rejected. This gives opportunities for the House of Commons to amend the Government’s Brexit motions and have its say.
- Ensuring that Article 50 could be extended, firstly by amending the Withdrawal Act allow “exit day” to be changed, and secondly by persuading the Prime Minister to bring a vote on extension. This avoided ‘No Deal’ in March and April.
- Despite being a Minister, in March I did not follow a three-line whip and refused to vote for a motion that would effectively approve of ‘No Deal’.
However, while important, yesterday's amendment does not stop ‘No Deal’.
There are only three ways to avoid ‘No Deal’. Approve a deal, revoke Article 50, or extend Article 50. I am one of only eight MPs to have voted for all three of these options. I voted for the motion entitled ‘revocation instead of No Deal’, I have voted for extension twice, and for a deal three times.
If the policy of the next Government is to secure a deal with the EU, I shall support this, as it is the best way to avoid 'No Deal' and secure an orderly exit. Of course, had Brexit supporters voted for the Withdrawal Agreement we would have left the EU by now, there would be no threat of No Deal, we would be focusing on the future relationship and days like yesterday would be unnecessary.
I am always happy to hear from constituent about this or any other issue, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org