Tulip Siddiq resignation: 'Europe is a very big deal here - it wouldn't be fair to vote for Brexit'
PUBLISHED: 16:50 27 January 2017
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has said the same passion that drove her to campaign for Remain straight after giving birth is what led her to quit the Labour frontbench to vote against Brexit.
Ms Siddiq resigned from her role as shadow minister for early years yesterday after Jeremy Corbyn said there would be a three-line whip – the strongest warning to party members on how to vote – sent to Labour MPs insisting they back the Brexit bill.
Speaking to the Ham&High, Ms Siddiq said it wouldn’t be fair to her constituents – about 75 per cent of whom voted to keep Britain in the EU – if she followed the Labour line rather than her conscience.
She said: “This wasn’t easy – I didn’t do it on a whim. I’ve had sleepless nights thinking about this.
“But when I was campaigning for election in 2015, the majority of the questions I was being asked were about staying in Europe. It’s a very big deal to people here.”
She added: “I’m passionate about staying myself – I went out with my newborn baby to campaign in the referendum, that’s how strong I feel about it.”
Responding to criticism that she is voting against the democratically expressed will of the British people, Ms Siddiq stressed that her loyalty lies with her constituency.
She said: “People are right to say, ‘The result of the referendum was for us to leave’. The country did vote to leave – but I’m the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.”
Ms Siddiq added that, despite her decision to step down, she will be the “exception” in Labour and most MPs will vote as instructed.
She also said the vote and her frontbench departure are unlikely to affect Mr Corbyn’s reign.
“He’s very resilient,” she said. “This will not be the end of his leadership.”
As for her own career, Ms Siddiq said “anything” can happen, but for now her priority is Hampstead and Kilburn.
Asked if she had given up on her ambitions to be in government, she said: “I’m not sure how long I will be in Parliament – it’s really a bit too early in my career to say.
“Who knows what will happen? There are leadership changes – who thought Trump would lead, for example? Who thought Corbyn would?”
Promising to continue fighting hard from the backbenches – where “you can get away with saying a lot more about your constituency” – Ms Siddiq said she hopes to help heal the post-Brexit divide.
“I regret that there were so many lies from the Leave campaign – but there were failures on both sides,” she said.
“It should have been so easy to articulate the reasons for staying, but it didn’t happen. [Nigel] Farage had a field day peddling lies.”
She added: “There’s a big job to be done to heal the country – and the constituency.”