Article 50 speech

On Tuesday evening (31st January) I spoke in the Second Reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

You can watch my speech here, or read it here.

For the sake of the country that I love, I will not be voting to trigger Article 50.

Patriotism and loving one's country requires more than blind faith.

Since the day after the referendum last June I have been absolutely clear about my position, and I will be honouring my promises tonight.

I will be voting against the Government's European Union (Notification of Withdrawal Bill) tonight on Second Reading. I will be voting against the Government's Programme Motion seeking to curtail debate to two days this week and three days next week. I will be voting for the Reasoned Amendment that declines to give the Bill a Second Reading because the Bill fails to provide a guarantee of the UK's future in the Single Market and the customs union, fails to protect the rights of EU citizens, fails to maintain workers' rights, consumers' rights and environmental regulation.

I will be voting against the Government's Bill next week too. I have tabled a number of amendments to the Bill myself, and have signed amendments tabled my my colleagues. I will spend the coming days fighting for the Government to accept amendments to their Bill and persuading colleagues to join me in the 'No' lobby.

I do not believe that Brexit is in the interests of my constituents or the country. A hard Brexit won’t deal with any of the long-standing, structural problems highlighted by the Brexit vote. It will make them worse. And if anything, the real tragedy is that with Whitehall and Parliament so consumed with Brexit for the next 10 years, we will have no capacity to address these problems.

Most of all, I will not take lectures about representing left behind communities. I have seen two riots in a generation in Tottenham. My constituents have borne the brunt of austerity since 2010, and it is they who will pay the price of a hard Brexit.

I will not walk into a voting lobby tonight with the party of Nigel Farage and right-wing Tories, whose vision of society I went into politics to oppose.

I will continue to stand my ground and fight for what I believe in and I will do so with a clear conscience.

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