Friday, 27 January 2017

On the Article 50 bill-and why overall I would vote Aye were I an MP

The Article 50 Bill, aka the 'Brexit bill', is being voted on as we speak, and what is notable is that within the Green Party Caroline Lucas MP will vote 'No' but Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb will vote 'Aye': http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-green-party-split-article-50-caroline-lucas-jenny-jones-back-brexit-2017-1 and that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's decision is to unfairly and unethically impose a three-line whip for Labour MPs to vote 'Aye': https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/26/corbyn-to-impose-three-line-whip-on-labour-mps-to-trigger-article-50-brexit

Like such moral issues as abortion, the subject of Brexit is one where the vote should automatically be free to all members of both Houses of Parliament, given the division over the issue and how to handle it during negotiations and after negotiations finish. The fact that some Labour frontbenchers (Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead & Kilburn and Jo Stevens, MP for Cardiff Central) are now resigning over the 3-line whip to endorse the bill, is a key indicator of how unwise Jeremy's decision is. Both the Conservatives and Labour in particular are clearly divided over Brexit in terms of MPs, peers, members and supporters. Everyone who votes on the 'Article 50 Bill' should do so with their conscience and that of their constituents, not because of a whip.

I would vote 'Aye' to this bill were I am MP (with reservations). The reason why I would support the fundamental point of this bill is to uphold the wishes of the people decided in that 23 June referendum, and to therefore uphold democracy-not because I support Brexit (I have serious concerns about its consequences for us). Even though it was only a small majority, it is a majority nonetheless. However, the wishes of the 48.1% who voted Remain, as well as the 51.9% who voted Leave, must be taken into account and this proposed Article 50 bill fails to do so. Those who criticise it for its shortness and lack of a requirement for negotiations to be genuinely democratic and engaging with the public are correct.

Nevertheless, we need to get on with that task so that the EU referendum result serves as more than an expensive opinion poll, and not unnecessarily delay in this task. However, I believe it is important we maintain links with EU member states in the same way Norway and Switzerland do (neither nation has ever joined the EU but they both have Single Market membership and ECHR membership) and Europe in general, particularly in social terms. There is a green way to prosper outside the EU, as I have highlighted earlier, and Britain will need it.



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