I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. The majority of voters in my constituency and in Bristol as a city did not want to leave the EU either (I regularly receive letters from constituents on both sides of this debate about this). But the overall referendum result was in favour of Brexit. I respect that result and have been working towards ensuring the best deal for the UK.
The journey has been far from straightforward since the vote in June 2016 and I expect many more twists and turns along the way. I spent several months as part of Labour’s Brexit team working closely with Keir Starmer and have continued to follow developments and join my opposition colleagues in pushing for vital amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
These amendments – designed to protect the UK economy, rights at work and the environment – have all been rejected by a government which is in chaos on these important negotiations. We said that unless the Brexit Bill could pass six key tests then we could not support it.
We need it to protect rights at work, the environment and the EU Charter of fundamental Rights; ensure that a transitional arrangement is in place to protect jobs and the economy and support the role of the devolved bodies; and, crucially, guarantee that Parliament is not sidelined but there is a meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement.
The EU Withdrawal Bill in its current guise does not pass these tests and, as such, I and my Labour colleagues could not vote in favour of it.
The Tories want to stop any checks on their power and side line Parliament but my job is to ensure that we get the best outcome for people in Bristol South and the UK. The Bill will now go on to the House of Lords for further discussion before returning to the House of Commons and we will continue to push for the necessary changes.