This week my vote to give the Prime Minister the authority to trigger Article 50 was one of the most significant I have cast since I was elected as an MP almost 12 years ago.
Brexit, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, is perhaps the biggest single political issue in a generation. Other than the alarm caused by the prospect of a third runway at Heathrow, there is no issue on which I have received more correspondence.
I campaigned for Brexit during the referendum for so many reasons. Above all it was because I believe that freeing ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European courts, Single Market and Customs Union will allow our country to its sovereignty, adapt our regulations and strike new trading arrangements across the globe.
Theresa May’s barnstorming and visionary speech last month laid out what I hope will become the blueprint for our nation going forward. She painted a picture of a dynamic, sovereign and self-confident Britain which is as outward-looking as it is wedded to the principles of free trade and cooperation. And I would urge those who fear the opposite to keep an open mind as the Prime Minister navigates these waters in the month and years ahead.
During the referendum it was made abundantly clear by both sides that Parliament would accept the result. Whilst the Supreme Court judgement – that further legislation was necessary to activate article 50 to leave the EU – may have been disconcerting to some, I am pleased by this turn of events. Debate is the sign of a healthy democracy and the decision of the Supreme Court was an example of due process in democracy, in action. The passage of this Bill has put beyond any shadow of a doubt the authority of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50. Far from being a hurdle with the potential to derail Brexit, the vote in Parliaments has in fact strengthened it.
Sometimes people ask me how the Windsor Constituency voted in the referendum and it is not a simple answer.
Many constituents voted to ‘Remain’, especially in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (54%). However, only part of the local authority is within the constituency. The parliamentary constituency is based on very different boundaries.
The Windsor Parliamentary Constituency is made up of 19 wards, across three Local Authorities: The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest Borough Council and Slough Borough Council.
Referendum votes in our area were counted for the Local Authorities rather than by ward. Sadly the results were not released in granular enough detail on a ward-by-ward basis and we cannot know, officially, how the 19 wards that make up the Windsor Constituency voted.
However we do know that Bracknell Forest and Slough both voted to Leave (53.9% and 54.3% respectively), and a proportional analysis including the populations in these areas would indicate that the constituency as a whole did vote ‘Leave’. And, of course, we know that the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU.
However, had the constituency voted to remain, I would still have voted to support leaving the EU in parliament because it was the national result on which the decision was made. MPs are not delegate when it comes to national issues, as even ‘remain’ MPs have made clear.
The majority of MPs who voted in favour of triggering Article 50 had not campaigned for Brexit. And I have the greatest of respect for my colleagues in the House who stood by the promise made by parliament before the Referendum and respected the will of the people.
This is a new chapter in our national story, and I would encourage all of those supported remaining in the EU, whether they lived in constituencies that voted heavily to remain, leave, or were split down the middle, to positively engage with the Brexit process and look forward to the new path we will take going forward.
In Parliament I will continue to fight for the UK, and to push for the opportunities Brexit offers us in our aim to become the most open and globalised country in the world.