I have received well over a thousand emails from local residents who have signed the petition for a second EU referendum, or who are requesting that Parliament votes to reject the referendum result.
I am therefore writing again to clarify that I would not vote to trigger Article 50 unless a second referendum had been held.
I have always been passionately pro-European, and I campaigned very hard for the Remain campaign both in my constituency and elsewhere in the months leading up to the referendum. Whilst I don’t believe that the EU is perfect, I am absolutely certain that we are better off remaining within it and working from within to make it fit for purpose for the 21st century. I am proud that this support is shared by so many local residents in Dulwich and West Norwood and that Lambeth and Southwark voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU on 23rd June. I share the devastation that many residents feel about the referendum result.
The referendum result was extremely narrow and within a day of the result being announced it became clear that the key promises made by the Leave campaign were, quite frankly, completely dishonest. This is a pattern of behaviour we have come to expect from Boris Johnson in his former role as Mayor of London where he presided over the decimation of London’s police service, and repeatedly failed to tackle London’s housing crisis.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has admitted that it was ‘a mistake’ to promise £350million extra funding per week for the NHS as a consequence of Brexit, and former Tory leader Ian Duncan-Smith now claims that he never supported this pledge despite being photographed almost daily in front of the Leave campaign bus emblazoned with this slogan.
Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, key architect of the Leave campaign has said that he has no intention of limiting the numbers of EU migrants coming to the UK because the UK will have to accept the free movement of workers in order to remain within the European Single Market, in complete contrast to the claims made during the Referendum campaign that leaving the EU was the only way to reduce migration.
Large numbers of people voted Leave on the basis of these claims and it has become very clear that they have been deliberately misled.
I strongly believe that 16 and 17 year olds should be able to vote in UK elections and should have had their say on proposals that will impact on them more than any other generation.
The blatant dishonesty of the Leave campaign, combined with the closeness of the result and the exclusion of 16 and 17 year olds from the ballot, to my mind create a very strong case for a second referendum. This second vote should give electors aged 16 and above the final say in accepting or rejecting a detailed proposal on the terms under which the UK would leave the European Union, a decision the consequences of which would reverberate for decades. Electors should know in detail what the UK’s economic relationship with the EU would be, what the approach to immigration would be and what the impacts on our ability to travel to EU countries would be etc. I will do everything possible to ensure that Parliament explores this possibility to its fullest extent and would of course once again strongly campaign against these proposals to leave the European Union.
I will always vote on this matter in a way which represents the overwhelming view of my constituents that we should remain in the EU, but it is worth noting that there were many more constituencies that voted Leave, than voted Remain. I do not think that it is realistic to expect the majority of MPs to vote against the referendum result that their own constituencies delivered. This is one of the reasons that I believe a second referendum is our best chance of remaining in the EU.
The government has so far provided very little detail about the Brexit process and I will be pressing for full Parliamentary involvement in and scrutiny of this at every stage. The mechanism for triggering Article 50 is not yet clear, but it is critical that this should take place via a vote in the House of Commons. I will write to both shortlisted Tory leadership candidates next week to press them to ensure that this happens. I would not vote to trigger Article 50 unless a second referendum had been held, and would campaign and vote for a Remain result in such a referendum regardless of the details of the proposal.
I have signed Early Day Motion 243 (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2016-17/243) which calls for a second referendum, and I hope that this will reach the required threshold of support for it to be debated in Parliament.
Over the coming months I will continue to represent the overwhelming view of my constituents that the UK should remain in the EU.