Why I’m voting to trigger Article 50 by Steve McCabe MP

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Read Steve's statement on the Article 50 Bill and watch his contribution to debate in the House of Commons

Since the referendum last June, I have received a huge number of emails, letters and phone calls from constituents, both Leavers and Remainers asking me to vote for or against invoking Article 50 which allows the government to start the negotiations for Britain to leave the EU.


I understand many people who voted ‘remain’ in the EU referendum are hugely disappointed by the result. Many constituents will know that I also campaigned to remain and I am equally disappointed by the outcome.


There are those who don’t accept the result and want to fall back on arguments about the referendum being merely advisory. They want us to set the result aside and carry on as if nothing has happened. I don’t believe we can do that in a democracy. It’s my view that everyone who took part in the referendum vote believed they were deciding our future – in or out of the European Union. If the result had swung the other way I would have accepted it and challenged anyone who tried to argue that the closeness of the outcome was grounds for setting it aside. We entered the referendum in good faith, without any caveats and, I think we should now turn our minds to what the UK, and for me specifically Birmingham, can achieve in the new world that lies before us.


I have no intention of setting out to frustrate the Article 50 process. I recognise that this course of action won’t suit some people, especially those who are urging me to vote against. I’ve given the issue a lot of thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my job to respect the outcome of the referendum and do my upmost to ensure that the interests of my constituents, Leavers and Remainers, are rightfully and suitably represented. I respect others who take a contrary view but I can only do what I believe is right.


Selly Oak constituency voted overall by a margin of less than 3000 votes to remain in the EU but the vote was divided with the wards of Billesley voting decisively to leave, Brandwood voting to leave by a slim majority, Bournville voting to remain and a decisive remain vote in Selly Oak. The results from a constituency survey I carried out after the referendum however, reveal a lot of common ground among my constituents. On many issues, including the future of EU citizens in the UK, MPs right to vote on Article 50, the UK’s involvement in the Single Market, job security and the impact on the cost of living, both Leavers and Remainers share similar opinions. The views of my constituents expressed through this survey, will be uppermost in my mind during the Brexit process.


Triggering Article 50 is just the start of the process, there will be a long battle throughout the negotiations to shape the final deal. I won’t be giving the Government a blank cheque and I intend to use every opportunity to argue for a Brexit deal that protects jobs, our economy and workers’ rights. My colleague, Keir Starmer MP, has already tabled a number of amendments to the Article 50 Bill which will ensure that the House of Commons has the final say on any deal proposed by the government. It also calls for regular reports to Parliament, at least every two months, so that MPs can be kept fully up to speed with the progress of negotiations and it calls for efforts to ensure that we can trade our goods and services in Europe and for protection of UK nationals in Europe and EU citizens living here. This is a good start. I genuinely believe we have to move on but I will continue to scrutinize the government’s approach and do all in my power to stand up for the best interests of my constituents.


By Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak) 

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