"Bring back control"?

Article 50. Six months ago few would have any idea what this obscure piece of a European treaty was all about. Now it is central to our politics.


It is, of course, the procedure for leaving the EU, which the UK will do after last June’s referendum. There is a court case before the Supreme Court at the moment and, despite what some people say, it isn’t about “unelected judges” blocking Brexit. It’s about whether Parliament needs to be consulted or whether the Prime Minster has the right, in law, to activate it by herself.

Since the Leave campaign wanted to “bring back control” to the UK, it seems absurd to me that they should not want an important issue like this to be decided by Parliament. Or to be considered by our most experienced and senior judges.

But I am clear on one thing: as someone who campaigned strongly for us to remain in the EU (and I still think the decision to leave was the wrong one) I will vote to activate Article 50 if the decision comes before the Commons. Yes, the referendum was flawed and people were misled, but that was the nation’s decision and I will respect it.

The irony is that my position will displease both sides: leavers because I campaigned for remain and believe things will get worse for us outside the EU. Remainers because they don’t want to leave the EU and see major problems ahead. But I was elected to use my judgement and I believe it is the right thing to do to respect the referendum decision, even if I don’t want it myself.

I will always be honest and explain my positon, even if it means that I upset folks that don’t agree.

There is another issue however. I have written about it before in The Standard. It is the toxic, destructive politics that we are now seeing after the referendum. Anti-parliament and anti-judiciary: the British institutions supposed to be revered by some leading leave campaigners are now being painted as the “enemies of the people” by those same prominent leave campaigners.

“The people” are not the 52% who voted to leave, most of whom had perfectly good reasons for doing so. They are the 100% of British people, the 100% of Cestrians too, who just want a secure, prosperous and I believe, tolerant society.  I will always stand up for the 100% in rejecting this dangerous rhetoric of intolerance, to respect our institutions and get the best deal I can for Chester and the UK in the difficult times ahead. 

Showing 4 reactions

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  • commented 2017-02-01 13:39:06 +0000
    I am a staunch Remainer. The consequences of us turning our backs on our European friends and cozying up to Trump and Erdogan are beyond horrendous. May and the right wingers have hijacked a 52/48 split based on lies and have sought to bypass Parliament itself as well. This is nothing short of a coup. She must be resisted at every possible opportunity. It’s beyond Brexit now, but concerns the very future of the western world. All left leaning parties (and some Tories) must unite now to resist the path these people want to take us on.
  • commented 2017-01-26 18:11:32 +0000
    The immediate problem is that if you activate article 50, parliament will most likely end up with a choice 2 years down the line of either accepting that we are out of the single market and the custom’s union, with possibly some marginal special deal that has been negotiated for the City of London, or going for the only slightly worse option of no deal at all. In other words it is not at all clear that the EU would let us change our minds entirely at that point, so as to either stay in the EU, the single market, and/or the custom’s union. If parliament wants to have a say on those options then MPs need to vote for them now in a way that is binding on the government, before we activate article 50.
  • commented 2017-01-26 15:27:55 +0000
    The referendum was flawed. If you vote to activate article 50 I will not vote for you in the next election.
  • commented 2017-01-25 10:33:50 +0000
    Independent estimates (IFS, Office for Budgetary Responsibility, etc) suggest the government will lose about 25 billion/year in tax revenue if we leave the single market, enough for a 20% increase in the NHS budget on an ongoing basis. As about 1 pound in 3 ends up as tax then as a rough calculation, that means the rest of us are going to lose about 50 billion, or £770 per year per man, woman and child, on an ongoing basis. (If we had wanted to we could have collected that in tax too, been no worse off and had a 60% rise in the NHS budget (for example) Even a 20% rise would make an enormous difference).

    Another way of thinking about this is that the 75 billion we will lose every year by leaving the single market is about 10 times the 7 – 8 billion net cost of being an EU member.

    If we had wanted to spend this much money, would we really have chosen to spend it on leaving the single market? Or if we have this much money to spare, why isn’t Labour pressing for it to be spent on more important things?

    The government may have a mandate to take us out of the EU, but if it had wanted to take us out of the Single Market, it should have put that on the ballot paper. I believe parliament now has a responsibility to demand that we stay in the Single Market. This doesn’t necessarily mean voting against us leaving the EU, just ensuring that we do so without cutting off our noses to spite our face. After all, if we were thinking of joining the single market or the EU wouldn’t parliament want to decide which one?