Last week I was one of 498 MPs in the House of Commons who voted by an overwhelming majority to proceed to with the ‘European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill’, to invoke Article 50. I received significant correspondence from many constituents asking me to vote one way or another. But I was always clear I would vote for the Bill, and in so doing, back invoking Article 50.
This was for a number of reasons. Recognising both the scale of the question, and strong feelings on both sides of this most important issue, I had supported holding a referendum on EU membership for some time before it became a reality last year. So I was pleased that the Conservative Party manifesto for the 2015 General Election - on which I and 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.
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 public 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 mandate delivered by a clear majority of the public is the largest direct vote on a proposition in British electoral history.
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. Further information on our plan for this new, positive and constructive partnership with the EU was published in a White Paper presented to Parliament before the detailed committee stage of the Bill debated over three days this week.
So I have continued to support the Bill this week which now proceeds to the House of Lords. I have delivered on my word to respect the outcome of the referendum in both the Ludlow Constituency and across the wider UK.