The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was decisively rejected by Parliament in the biggest Government defeat in our history. When the deal comes back before MPs next week I will of course be looking closely at it.
I stand by the commitment made to you in 2017 that I would respect the outcome of the referendum. My voting record in Parliament reflects that. I have not voted for any amendments that would result in a second referendum, nor do I intend on doing so in the future.
A second referendum will not heal the current divisions in the country, it will not restore what little faith the electorate has left in our democracy and it will not be the panacea its supporters believe it to be. Moreover, the result is very likely to be the same as it was in 2016.
In the Brexit debate people have been talked down to as if they didn’t know what they were voting for. But my constituents are not idiots; they weren’t fooled by slogans on the side of a bus – their decisions were far more nuanced than that. I know this for certain because I have spent the last few years engaging directly and thoroughly with them on this issue.
Brexit has divided our country, political affiliations and families. The longer this drags on, the more entrenched these divisions will become.
Constantly frustrating or failing to deliver Brexit will see disillusioned people abandoning the mainstream parties, potentially risking decades of hard-right rule that will be far more damaging to my constituents than any Brexit scenario.
That is why I am focused on ensuring we get the best deal for South Shields and I will continue to support any amendments that enable Parliament to break the Brexit deadlock.
That is why I also voted for Labour’s alternative Brexit plan, which would have safeguarded jobs, workplace rights, environmental standards, trading arrangements and avoided a hard border in Northern Ireland.
I will do all I can to avoid ‘no deal’, as analysis shows that would plunge our country into economic chaos. I accept that a very short extension of Article 50 may be needed and I am supportive of such an extension if, and only if, it is for the purpose of getting a deal.
I know that not everyone will agree with me. Brexit has polarised and hardened views everywhere. However, I can say with confidence, after engaging widely with constituents on this issue, that my voting record is reflective of the majority of local people who have been in contact with me.
David Cameron’s arrogance and fear of Ukip is what got us into this mess. Theresa May’s intransigence on her red lines, her refusal to reach out and placating of the European Research Group to save her party and her job has led us to where we are now.
Next week, I and other MPs will again have difficult decisions to make. I want my constituents to know that, as I have done throughout my time in Parliament, I will put South Shields first.
I am proud to be South Shields’ voice in Parliament, and will always endeavour to not let you down.