Westminster Column - Meaningful Vote

7th December 2018

Next week the House of Commons will have its Meaningful Vote on the Withdrawal Agreement presented by the Prime Minister. It is a vitally important moment, but it is hard to predict the consequences.

As one might expect with such a momentous vote, there has been a lot of public interest. I have received advice from over 500 constituents, with every shade of opinion, all requesting that I support their point of view.

As MPs we exercise our judgement in doing what is best for our constituents and country. Many people are asking us to act as delegates to represent their own view, which is clearly not possible given the number of people on opposing sides of the debate.

Some of those who have written to me have changed their view since the referendum; some have offered thoughtful messages of strongly held yet reasoned views; and some messages have been written – in both directions – in such intemperate language that they could be considered libellous.

There is no getting around the fact this is a deeply divisive issue - but the PM is doing her best to resolve in a way which allows the country to come back together and tackle the big issues of the future. This may be a vain hope, but I believe it is of critical importance for the future of our country as a tolerant open society offering refuge, hope and aspiration for those who look to improve the human condition within a principled law abiding society.

Whatever the outcome of next week’s votes, and there will be several amendments voted on before the Meaningful Vote itself on Tuesday night, I urge readers to approach the consequences from a rational and level headed respect for the rule of law and our constitutional conventions.

There is little sense going over hypothetical questions about what might have been if events had transpired differently. Hindsight is always 20/20. But the vote reflects the position we are now in. The alternative is no deal, for which there is no majority in Parliament.

I am concerned about the consequences of remaining in the backstop, but believe the EU are incentivised to agree to its termination as the Attorney General advised this week.

So I intend to support the Prime Minister’s deal, and will not support any amendments next week which allude to a People’s Vote.

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