Yesterday I was one of 498 MPs in the House of Commons who voted by an overwhelming majority to proceed with the single clause ‘European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill’, to invoke Article 50.
I write to explain why I voted for the Bill, and in so doing, backing the invocation of Article 50.
Recognising both the scale of the question, and strong feelings on both sides of this most important issue, I supported holding a referendum on EU membership for some time before it became a reality. So I was pleased that our Conservative Party 2015 General Election manifesto – on which all Conservative MPs stood – held in it our commitment to hold a full In/Out referendum, and pledged to implement the result, whatever the outcome.
The campaign split the country, with many different views expressed. It is no secret I campaigned for a Remain vote. But I also made clear that I would abide by the decision made by the British people on 23rd June last year.
Now that the British people have voted decisively to Leave, it is important that MPs who voted for the referendum and promised to respect the result should stick to their word. This would have held just as true for those campaigning for Leave who would have been expected to respect the result, had we voted Remain. The British people voted by a clear majority in June last year to leave the EU. No Prime Minister or Government in British history has ever received as large a direct electoral mandate.
We have had the national debate and the people have spoken. Now is the time for us all to pull together to make the best of Brexit, whether in securing global trade deals, reassuring EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU, encouraging new business, growing our economy or delivering more sustainable jobs.
Theresa May set out last month an ambitious comprehensive plan to deliver a global Britain, outside of the single market, trading freely with friends and neighbours not only in Europe, but across the world.
Our plan for this new, positive and constructive partnership with the EU will be confirmed in a White Paper presented to Parliament today.
So I will continue to support the Bill, and deliver on my word to respect the outcome of the referendum in both my constituency and across the wider UK.
Philip Dunne MP