I am writing to set out my views on the Article 50 legislation which the House of Commons will debate this week and next. I am grateful to the constituents who have been in touch with me on this important subject.
I will vote in favour of triggering Article 50 and I will support amendments during the Committee Stage of the Bill which seek to protect jobs, workers' rights and environmental and consumer protections.
I supported Remain in the referendum last year. I was deeply disappointed by the referendum result. I am a longstanding supporter of the UK's membership of the EU.
My personal beliefs about this issue have not changed, but I believe that Parliament should respect the will of the British people.
Whilst the results were not counted on a constituency basis I attended the local count and saw the bundles of votes for each of our Council wards. My estimate is that the West Derby constituency did indeed narrowly vote to Remain. However this was a national referendum not 650 separate local referendums.
I campaigned hard for Remain. On a number of occasions supporters of “Leave" on the doorstep asked me whether Parliament would respect the referendum outcome either way. I gave a firm commitment that we would do so.
We live in an era in which many people feel disconnected from politics. I was devastated by the vote to leave the European Union but I think it would cause further damage to our politics if Parliament voted to ignore the referendum.
The Government did not intend to give MPs a vote on triggering Article 50. I welcome the fact that this Bill is coming to Parliament. Next week we will get the chance to table amendments on crucial issues like workers' rights, single market access and for proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Government's negotiating position.
I think it is important to recognise that triggering Article 50 is the start of the process, not the end. Our job over the period after Article 50 is triggered will be to hold the government’s feet to the fire, over the aims and outcome of the negotiations.
I know that there are different views on this in the constituency - some would prefer me to vote against Article 50 on principle whilst others supported Leave but I have been reassured by a number of members who - like me - supported Remain but agree that Article 50 should now be triggered.
Please rest assured that as the Brexit process moves forward I will do all I can to ensure the best deal, not just for the country, but for my constituents.
Please do get in touch if you have any thoughts or comments.