Brent North MP in favour of Article 50 despite borough’s wish to remain
PUBLISHED: 13:13 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:59 31 January 2017
Labour MP Barry Gardiner has outlined his support for triggering Article 50 despite campaigning - and his constituents voting - to remain.
A number of Labour frontbenchers resigned last week, including Tulip Siddiq MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, citing their inability to back the bill to formally start the Brexit process.
Ending her stint as shadow minister for early years, Ms Siddiq penned a resignation letter to Jeremy Corbyn detailing her position against the bill, stating: “I do not support the triggering of Article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the front bench position.”
She had also previously gone on record with her intention to represent the views of her constituents’ who voted to remain throughout the upcoming debates.
However, shadow secretary of state for international trade & shadow minister for international climate change Mr Gardiner has stated he will “abide by its [the referendum] result even though I disagree with it”.
Mr Gardiner emphasised the “number of key amendments” Labour has tabled to the bill and his responsibility as an MP to “try to shape how we leave the EU in the best interests of the British people”.
Despite a total of 72,523 Brent residents to remain in the Europe, as opposed to the 48,881 who voted in favour of triggering Article 50, the MP claimed his duty to represent his constituents “does not in my view allow us to undermine the principle of democracy as a whole”.
“I have enormous sympathy with all those of my colleagues who have wrestled with their conscience between the principle of democracy and the principle of representing their constituents but I am clear that I will respect the referendum result however much I disagree with it; and then I will try to mitigate its effects to secure the red lines that I and all my colleagues believe are so important,” said Mr Gardiner.
“We must and will hold the government to account every step of the way and secure an outcome that may not entirely satisfy either the 48 per cent or the 52pc but that is acceptable to the 100pc.
“That is how democracy functions.”
The office of Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central confirmed she plans to meet with constituents this evening before making a decision but could not provide the Brent & Kilburn Times with any details of the meeting.
Read Mr Gardiner’s statement in full here:
“When Theresa May became Prime Minister after the referendum she made it clear that she would not give “a running commentary” on Brexit. The Labour Party demanded parliamentary scrutiny, a white paper, a vote to trigger article 50 and a parliamentary vote on the final deal after it is negotiated. The new Prime Minister refused them all.
The Labour Party in the House of Commons, and the Judiciary through the courts have now secured all these vital elements of democratic accountability.
“The Supreme Court made it clear that the referendum vote determined that the UK would leave the European Union; but that it was for Parliament to determine how it should leave. I agree with the Supreme Court ruling. Although I voted and campaigned to remain, I am first and foremost a democrat. That means that I acknowledge that I lost the referendum vote. That means that I abide by its result even though I disagree with it. But I also agree with the Supreme Court that I must now as a Member of Parliament try to shape how we leave the EU in the best interests of the British people. That is why Labour has tabled a number of key amendments to the Bill.
“64 per cent of Labour voters across the country voted to Remain. But the majority of Labour MPs serve constituencies that voted by a majority to leave. The Labour Party is therefore presented both with a conflict of interests and a conflict of principles like no other party. In many ways we are much more representative of the divisions in the country over Brexit than any other political party. My view is that we must resolve the conflicts of principle and leave the conflicts of electoral interest to resolve themselves.
“It is a uniquely valuable principle of our democracy that MPs have a special duty of care towards their constituents. We hold surgeries to deal with their individual problems and we represent them to various bodies and authorities to demand their rights. But our duty to represent our constituents does not in my view allow us to undermine the principle of democracy as a whole. I have enormous sympathy with all those of my colleagues who have wrestled with their conscience between the principle of democracy and the principle of representing their constituents but I am clear that I will respect the referendum result however much I disagree with it; and then I will try to mitigate its effects to secure the red lines that I and all my colleagues believe are so important.
“Only by voting at 2nd Reading to trigger Article 50 do we move to the position where we can amend the bill and hold the Government to account to 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 and a meaningful vote at a stage of the negotiations where it is still possible to change the outcome. Triggering Article 50 is only the beginning of a long process. We must and will hold the government to account every step of the way and secure an outcome that may not entirely satisfy either the 48pc or the 52pc but that is acceptable to the 100pc. That is how democracy functions.
“Finally I would ask everyone to reflect on how they would have felt if their side had won the referendum, but parliament had set aside the result and done the opposite. The anger that would be generated if politicians ignored the outcome would be immense and justified. I believe that leaving the EU will make us poorer. But undermining our own democracy would make us much poorer still.”