Haringey MP Catherine West will vote against Brexit bill in Parliament
- Credit: Archant
Hornsey and Wood Green’s Labour MP Catherine West has said she will vote against Brexit when the referendum bill comes before Parliament in an attempt to undo what she sees as a catastrophic decision by the nation.
Ms West has come out in support of fellow Haringey MP David Lammy, who has called for Parliament to vote down the Referendum - which is only “advisory” and not legally binding.
Ms West said: “75% of my constituents voted to remain in the EU. Haringey secured the fourth highest remain vote in the country.
“I am proud to stand with them on this issue and I will vote against the Brexit bill when it comes before Parliament.”
Almost four million people have signed a petition calling on the government to hold a second referendum before the decision is taken to end our membership of the EU.
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The government has the option to simply ignore the Referendum, but Prime Minister David Cameron has made clear he will not do this, and will move to implement the will of the people after 52 per cent voted to leave.
Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty says that any member state may withdraw from the EU in accordance with its own constitutional requirements - and in the UK, sovereignty lies with Parliament because we do not have a written constitution.
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Before the withdrawal process can be implemented, Parliament must repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, by which it took us into the European Economic Community (EEC) - and this will form part of the Brexit bill, along with the negotiated conditions of withdrawal.
No date has been set for the Brexit bill to come before the Commons, but there is likely to be widespread anger among those who voted to leave if Parliament is seen go against the will of the people.
Ms West told the Ham&High today she feels duty-bound to do the best thing by her constituents.
“Even people who voted Leave are now getting very upset about the Referendum. They’ve seen that we’ve lost our triple A credit rating overnight, people have realised that their pensions are going to be affected and economists have estimated that each of us is £234 worse off, just since last Friday, with the amount if money that’s gone out of the economy.
“I think it’s fine in principle to ask for people’s views in a referendum, but what it means in practice will have to be in the form of a five-point plan to go before Parliament so that we play our part now.”
She added: “It would surprise me greatly if I ended up being in agreement with something that Boris Johnson thought up, which is why I can say with some confidence that I will vote against Brexit, because I would imagine that it’s going to be quite anti-migration, quite anti-public services. I don’t expect him to come up with a progressive vision for this country.”
Ms West is remaining loyal to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who today faces a vote of no confidence from his own party after around 40 members of his shadow team resigned, including Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer.
Ms West, a shadow foreign office minister, said: “We are having a national crisis, and in times of crises, the leaders always get the blame. Jeremy’s a grown-up and he accepts that.
“I would like to see the results of a ballot of members so I can see exactly what members think. I’m not planning to walk out - but I won’t accept a promotion because of the walk-out either.”
Ms West has known Islington North MP Mr Corbyn for years through her previous role as leader of Islington Council, and was among the small number of Labour MPs who backed him in the leadership contest.
She said: “I think Jeremy is a man of principle and he has wonderful values, and I think importantly, he was elected by over fifty per cent of the membership just a year ago.
“I can’t see anybody else who is an obvious candidate for leader at the moment, and so I think we are in a position where we need to re-ballot the membership, and whoever ends up as leader, we need to get behind them because we can’t afford to mess about any longer.”
Ms West is holding an open meeting for her constituents in Hornsey Town Hall this Saturday morning from 9.45am to address their concerns in the wake of the Brexit vote.
She said: “People are just so upset and shocked in my constituency since the result of the Referendum. I’ve had people coming up to me in tears since it happened, and that’s why I’m confident I’m doing the right thing in saying I will vote against the bill.”
But she acknowledged: “The take-home message from the Referendum was that regional England is very disconnected and angry and is still suffering the effects of the financial crash of 2008 and the austerity that followed - particularly in the post-industrial areas.
“In those areas, there really is a sense of despair, and people voted Leave because they thought they really felt they weren’t going to lose anything.
“In London, we have massive inequality, but we somehow rub along because there is still a fairly buoyant job market and there are still lots of options open to us, and that’s why I think the results were so different.”