South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says she sacrificed job ‘for constituents’ after not supporting second referendum

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says she put her constituents first when she rebelled against party orders to vote against a Commons call for a second referendum.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16 March, 2019, 15:17
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

Mrs Lewell-Buck says she knew she would be forced to sacrifice her shadow ministerial career - and Labour’s leadership made her resign as Shadow Minister for Children and Families because she opposes a fresh vote on leaving the EU.

She says that view is shared by most of her constituency, who voted out by over two-to-one in 2016.

The party’s official stance is to keep the option on the table and its MPs had been told to abstain when the issue was pushed to a vote in the Commons on Thursday.

She also revealed she may be compelled to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s twice defeated Brexit exit plan, which she has previously voted against.

She said the PM’s proposal is currently the best of three worst case options which also include not leaving the EU, and crashing out without a deal.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I was aware that I would be asked to resign, but I could not have abstained.

“Obviously it was not a decision I took lightly and I’m not proud to have had to do it because I knew I’d have to resign.

“But I’ve always said to the people of Shields that, as their voice in Parliament, I would not support a second referendum.

“I would accept a short extension to leaving the EU for the purposes of getting a better deal, but I would certainly not vote for another referendum.”

She added: “The party leadership knows this is very difficult for lots of us and that we all have to make difficult decisions. I have always done what I believe my constituents want me to do.”

On social media, Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn thanked her and three other MPs forced out of their posts due to their voting defiance.

He said: “I understand the difficulties MPs have felt representing the views of their constituents during this process.

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“I look forward to continuing to work with them to secure a Labour government, end austerity and give real hope to the whole country.”

On Brexit, Mrs Lewell-Buck has twice voted against Mrs May’s proposed negotiated terms of exit with the EU.

But she admitted: “If it comes down to her deal, no deal or not leaving the EU, then its her deal which I would do through gritted teeth.

“I’ve said to my constituents that I’ll honour the outcome of the referendum. Otherwise we’ll crash out without a deal or don’t leave in which case there would be chaos across the country.

“I’m really angry at the Prime Minister for getting everybody in this mess.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck won support for her Brexit voting stance from the South Tyneside Momentum branch which said she continued to have its “unwavering support”.

A spokesman said: “We at South Tyneside Momentum are saddened that Emma has resigned her post however we respect and understand her reasons for doing so.

“Since the referendum Emma has consistently engaged with local Labour Party members and constituents and has given them the opportunity to share their views and has engaged in fair and balanced debate on this issue.

“Emma stood on a manifesto that promised to respect the outcome of the result and in voting to oppose a second referendum she has done just that. Emma stood by her principles and broke the whip to vote against an amendment which was in support of a second referendum.

“Emma has on many occasions stated she is against a second referendum which is in line with the majority of South Shields constituents who overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU.

“As an ex Child Protection Social Worker Emma was ideally suited in her role as Shadow Minister for Children and Families and during her time in this post she worked tirelessly for the benefit of vulnerable children and spoke many times against the Government’s harsh policies.”