A majority of my constituents voted to leave the EU. Last week I voted for the Bill on Second Reading so that the Prime Minister would have the power to trigger Article 50 and begin the negotiations.
However, the referendum result did not mean that the Government should be handed a blank cheque for the negotiations. Both Remainers and Brexiters are clear that leaving the EU will have major constitutional, political, economic and social implications for our relations with other countries and for the people of Britain. The negotiations will be complicated, and it is important that the interests of all communities are represented. It is my role as MP for Bishop Auckland to get the sort of Brexit my constituents want.
Given the lack of a plan from the Government, I consulted my constituents on their expectations and hopes, and on how they want these decisions to be taken. I wrote to 5,500 of them, and I held six public meetings. Among other things, they wanted Parliament to be involved in the process and to protect manufacturing jobs and workers’ rights.
I voted for the Bill and as it went through Parliament I pressed the Government to report to Parliament quarterly on the negotiations and give Parliament an effective vote on the final terms of withdrawal and for our future relationships.
I will continue to scrutinise the Government’s Brexit plan and seek to ensure the outcomes represent what is fair and right for my constituents.