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‘I will vote to trigger Article 50 and secure best possible Brexit’

Suffolk Free Press EU referendum debate''Pictured: James Cartlidge MP
Suffolk Free Press EU referendum debate''Pictured: James Cartlidge MP

Well earlier this week the Government lost its appeal to the Supreme Court regarding the way in which the UK departs from the EU.

Instead of leaving without a Parliamentary vote, we will now have to issue what is known as ‘Article 50’ following a vote in both the Commons and the Lords.

It is worth pointing out that on November 7, last year, when Brexit Secretary of State David Davis made the first Government statement following its original defeat in the High Court, I urged him not to appeal and to get on with holding a vote, not least because of the possibility of losing the appeal.

I said “it must be blindingly obvious” from what MPs were saying in the Chamber that whether they originally campaigned for Leave or Remain, that following the referendum result most would vote to back the clear will of the UK people and support Article 50.

As it is, we have delayed matters several weeks but the same outcome of a Commons vote on a short piece of draft legislation now looms.

I believe and hope that we will have a comfortable majority for issuing Article 50. It is far better, now that the decision has been taken by the British people, that we present as united a front in Parliament as possible.

Of course, we must respect the 48 per cent who voted to remain and I have had many emails from such constituents, imploring me to vote against Article 50.

They argue that I campaigned for Remain, attending a number of public debates in the constituency to try and make my case, and should stand by what I said.

I do. But whilst I was on the Remain side in the referendum, this does not mean that I could vote against Article 50. The fact is that I also voted to pass into law the Referendum Act which specifically gave the public the power to make this decision, on the matter of our EU membership.

My Party’s manifesto promised to respect the result of that vote – whatever the outcome – and it would be reneging in a most dishonest and disrespectful way to now ignore the clear will of the majority.

It is also true that we live in a representative democracy where MPs generally vote to make the laws, not based explicitly on public opinion, but on our judgement of the national interest.

Yet whilst a referendum for every issue would make day to day Government impossible, we have historically used them for major constitutional decisions where the system of law-making is at stake.

So I will be voting to trigger Article 50 and then doing what I can to help secure the best possible Brexit.

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