13 March 2019 Brexit Votes

Following yesterday's votes regarding No Deal, I was contacted by a number of constituents regarding the way in which I voted on the motion laid by the Government, and the two amendments that preceded this vote. As such I believe it is important that I set out why I voted in the way I did, particularly given the confusing, and frankly unedifying, manner in which parliamentary business unfolded last night.

I lobbied hard with Ministerial colleagues for all divisions on No Deal to be free, but was unsuccessful. Had this remained an entirely free vote, has been indicated during the day and following the Meaningful Vote on 12 March, I would have voted against No Deal. However as a Minister I firmly support the principle of collective responsibility and in this time of national crisis I believe it would be the height of self-indulgence to resign my office. Accordingly I voted with the three line Government whip, but against the so-called Malthouse compromise, which remained a free vote.

The votes on Wednesday were essentially a procedural device and the full range of options for an extension has been debated today (14 March). As is the case at present, the situation remains highly fluid and political charged. We must take each day (and indeed each vote) one at a time.

This remains a deeply depressing process and I share much of the alarm and concern that has been expressed to me about the parliamentary chaos as we deal with the Brexit process. Many of you who have been in touch with me, or have viewed the articles on my website from recent years, will know my views on the broader issue of our relationship with the EU.

I am sorry should you disagree with my exercise of what I regard as the national interest in yesterday’s votes. These are unparalleled times.