Today I will be voting for the Government’s Brexit deal and I want to set out my reasons for this to my constituents.
This thin, final hour deal was not the deal that I wanted. It was not the deal we were promised. It was not the deal that my constituents, the vast majority of whom voted to remain, had hoped for. I do not believe that it is a good deal.
My constituents will know that during the last Parliament I consistently called for a second referendum and voted to remain in both the single market and the customs union. I wasn’t afraid to do what I felt was right for my constituents and for the country, even when it went against the Party whip.
But the debate has moved on from that, things that seemed possible in 2018 and 2019 were no longer a reality after the General Election.
So today the choice is stark. This deal. A bad deal. And a bad outcome.
Or no deal. A disastrous outcome for the country and for my constituents.
Given the choice this country currently faces I cannot in good conscience sit on my hands and abstain on the biggest vote I have faced since my election in 2017 - and in effect say I don’t mind either way if we leave with a deal or not. I also do not think that it would be credible for Labour, as a Government in waiting, to sit on the sidelines on an issue of such fundamental importance.
Nor can I vote against a deal when the alternative, no deal, is a complete disaster.
The responsibility for this bad deal lies squarely with the Conservatives. But this is the deal Labour will inherit if elected in 2024 and it will be our responsibility to build on it and to make it succeed in the future.
That’s why today, with great sorrow that we left the European Union last January, I will vote for this Government’s deal.