DESPITE many constituents voting against leaving the European Union, Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White has made the ‘difficult decision’ to back the Brexit bill.
When the EU referendum took place last year Mr White voted to remain, as did nearly 60 per cent of Warwick district residents.
But the district bucked the national trend, with the now well known outcome that Britain would leave the EU.
To ensure Brexit went ahead, MPs – including Mr White – voted in parliament to back the bill, which calls on government to invoke Article 50 by the end of March.
He said he saw no way in which voting against triggering the article would lead to a second referendum or halt Brexit.
Mr White said: “I voted for a motion calling on government to invoke Article 50. I did so because the democratic process has taken place and it would be wrong to overturn or ignore a decision that was made by the British people last year. For parliament to overturn that decision would do significant damage to the credibility of our democracy.
“I voted and campaigned to remain but I have to respect the outcome of the vote despite my disappointment in the result. This was an extremely difficult decision to make and I considered the vote at length, particularly due to the majority of my constituents voting to remain.
“However I cannot foresee a situation in which voting against triggering Article 50 would result in holding a second referendum or halting Brexit. There is no appetite for holding a second referendum amongst the vast majority of the House of Commons. Our country remains in a position of uncertainty and I believe that voting against the triggering of Article 50 would have prolonged that uncertainty.
“The one point that we can be sure of at this time is that we will leave the EU. My priority now is to ensure that the interests of local residents, businesses and other organisations are protected and that any potential risks are mitigated against as best as possible.”
Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright also backed the bill.
He said: “I voted to remain in the EU, so I am disappointed by the outcome of the referendum, but I believe strongly that it must be respected. A clear majority of the electorate in the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave. My own constituency consists of parts of Warwick District, which voted to remain, but also parts of Stratford District and Rugby Borough, both of which voted to leave. Although the margin of victory was not overwhelming, it was clear with over a million votes separating the two sides. No threshold of victory was included in the legislation providing for the referendum when it was passed and I think it would be wrong to seek to impose one retrospectively.
“Whatever the failings of the campaign and the ways in which arguments on both sides were put this was an open and robust debate where the electorate had a clear choice to make. Democracy requires that in any election or referendum, the losing side is not entitled to a re-run simply because it does not like the outcome, however strong that dislike may be.
“Some suggest that the referendum was ‘advisory’ only and should therefore be disregarded by parliament. I am afraid I reject this argument too. Although it is true that the referendum in itself does not trigger our automatic departure from the EU, a determination by parliament to disregard the clearly expressed will of the people in a referendum when all had undertaken to respect the outcome would further undermine faith in politics and Parliament.
“The decision to trigger Article 50 is in my view indistinguishable from the decision a majority of those voting in the referendum took. I therefore voted to honour the result of the referendum Parliament voted to provide and to authorise the giving of notice under Article 50.”