No response from Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn after politician abstained from Brexit vote

Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn has refused to reveal why he sat on the fence on a crucial Commons Brexit debate that was lost by just two votes.

By Gareth Crickmer
Friday, 15 March, 2019, 17:09
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.

Mr Hepburn failed to respond to a request for comment by the Gazette over why he abstained on an amendment seeking to find fresh ways to overcome Brexit stalemate.

It would have allowed MPs to make ‘indicative votes’ - a way of expressing their views on possible solutions to how Britain will leave the EU.

It would also have established which alternative to PM Theresa May’s twice rejected Brexit deal had the most support in Parliament.

The amendment, backed by senior backbenchers including Labour’s Hilary Benn and Conservative Dominic Grieve, was defeated by 314 to 312 votes.

Mr Hepburn also voted against an amendment to the amendment, proposed by Labour MP Lucy Powell, which asked MPs to put a time limit on any extension to Article 50 - the mechanism by which Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29.

The Gazette asked Mr Hepburn:

* Why did you abstain in the vote?

*You have voted against Theresa May’s exit proposal – what was it about the amendment (which aimed to find common Commons ground on a way out of the current impasse) that you could not support?

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*With the amendment being lost by just two votes, and three MPs abstaining, do you now regret abstaining?

*What is your preferred way forward for Brexit?

There was no response to any of these questions.

On social media, Mr Hepburn was condemned and praised for his stance on voting against the amendment in equal measure.

Mike the Red said: “Should be expelled from the Labour Party. Their disregard for the well-being of the poor and disadvantaged those who would be hurt most by no deal is unforgivable.”

But Mr Hepburn won support from Andrew Worthington who said: “Kate Hoey MP and Stephen Hepburn.

“The are the only two people from your party that can hold their heads high. You did what your constituents wanted.”