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.