Whichever way you voted in the Brexit referendum, I struggle to believe you could be happy with where we are now. Hornsey & Wood Green secured one of the highest remain votes in the country back in 2016 and judging by the hundreds of emails I still receive each week on the subject, the belief that our country is making a very damaging mistake is only growing stronger.
That’s certainly my view. I voted against triggering Article 50 because I didn’t believe the Government had a plan and was one of the first MPs to support a public vote on the final deal with the option to “remain”. With the Prime Minister’s deal falling to an overwhelming historic defeat, I want to see that happen now.
People voted to leave for different reasons, but since the referendum, the Prime Minister has tried to pretend they could have it all whilst refusing to acknowledge that her deal would leave our country poorer and governed by rules we no longer have a say in making. Instead of seeking to find a consensus, she’s failed to reach out to remain voters in the House or across the country, failed to stand up for the three million EU citizens who have made the UK their home and set negotiating “red lines” that meant her deal was always doomed to fail. I’m extremely concerned at reports that she’s now considering amending the Good Friday agreement that has helped keep peace in Northern Ireland for 20 years.
After her deal was rejected, the PM stood up in Parliament and said we must “listen to the British people who want this issue settled”. I agree. But to my mind, that means asking them what they want now when it’s so much clearer what Brexit will actually mean for their lives, their jobs and their families.
I’m not enthusiastic about another referendum. The rise in vitriol in our national debate during the last was shameful. In the years since the debate has continued to be angry and divisive and the appalling abuse so often targeted at women MPs is a worrying example of growing intolerance to the difference of opinion.
But that can’t be a reason to close down debate on an issue so critical for the future of our country. Nor can we afford to let more time run out. I’m supporting Labour Yvette Cooper’s amendment that will give Parliament a vote on whether to extend Article 50 so we don’t risk ending up with no deal by accident. Whilst it’s clear there is no Parliamentary majority for “no deal” that remains the default if an agreement isn’t reached by 29 March.
The Prime Minister’s deal suffered the biggest Parliamentary defeat in British history. It’s dead in the water and the Government should now seek to extend Article 50 and propose legislation to prepare for a public vote.
Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green