As you will be aware, the Government’s European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons last night by a majority vote of 384.
I abstained from voting on the Bill as I am not prepared to vote to trigger the process of our leaving the EU without assurance of the consequences for my constituents. The Bill, in its current form, does nothing to acknowledge concerns raised by constituents on both sides of this most important and far-reaching of debates. The vote took place before the government’s White Paper on Exiting the EU was presented, so MPs had to vote without any real information about the government’s strategy and I could not take such a leap into the dark for my constituents.
I voted to oppose the programme motion, which is the Government’s timetable for debating a Bill at each of its stages. A mere three days of debate next week when we can table amendments to try and improve this Bill, before it heads off to the House of Lords, is simply insufficient. To have just five days of debate and scrutiny on legislation which will directly impact on every aspect of our lives and the lives of future generations is extraordinary and, I believe, reckless.
You can read the transcript of my contribution to the debate in Parliament, in which I set out my position, at the following link: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-01-31b.889.2.
Hundreds of amendments to the Bill have been tabled by MPs from different parties, and I have already added my support to a number of those which I feel best incorporate the concerns that have been raised with me. We do not know which amendments will get selected for debate next week but those I have supported would help address some of those concerns, many of which I share. However, I will not vote for a bad deal that will risk making life harder and poorer for my constituents, and if the Bill is not significantly improved by the time it returns to the Commons for final approval, then I will vote against it.