Justin Madders MP - Blog - March 2019
|Author: Justin Madders MP||Published: 19th March 2019 15:58|
Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, uses his AboutMyArea blog to explain his recent decision to resign from the Labour front bench.
Justin Madders MP - Photo by Bernard Rose.
Since I was elected as an MP in 2015, ministerial and shadow ministerial resignations seem to have occurred almost every week. Last week I joined those ranks, resigning as a shadow health minister after three and a half years in the role. I found myself in a position where I felt I had to vote against the Labour whip on one of the many amendments put forward to the EU Withdrawal Agreement and, as a frontbench spokesperson, I am supposed to follow the Labour whip at all times. Because I hadn't, I was asked to resign as a spokesperson but I of course remain an MP.
I was sad to have to resign, but until recent times it has been the usual practice for this to happen. In the week when four cabinet ministers broke the Conservative Party whip and faced no sanction, it is clear that the usual practice doesn't always apply anymore, at least for some people, but I knew when I voted the way I did I might have to go and have to live with the consequences of that.
The vote in question was to decide if there should be a referendum on whether we choose to leave the EU on Theresa May's deal, with us not leaving at all if we rejected that. I had been asked to abstain on the vote but felt I had to register my objection to that proposal. I do not think the Prime Minister's deal is a good one and so couldn't see any merit in putting something to a referendum that had already been rejected by Parliament twice. I also felt that having stood on a manifesto at the last election in 2017 that said I accepted the outcome of the referendum, that supporting a referendum on the basis suggested would not have been an honourable or consistent thing to do. I am extremely concerned that another referendum would solve nothing; we either leave the EU on a deal many people are lukewarm about at best, or we have a vote to remain in the EU which will immediately start demands for a third vote.
It has been clear to me for a long time that Brexit has divided the country, as well as the constituency, and that there is no solution to this that will please everyone. It has been an unfortunate consequence of the Prime Minister's strategy that by trying to come up with an agreement that pleases everyone in her party, she has ended up pleasing no-one. I have felt for a long time that the only way for Parliament to get through this impasse is for everyone to move away from their entrenched positions and start engaging in proper dialogue about what kind of deal we can all live with.
Investment decisions are being put on hold and may be lost forever if we cannot bring some certainty to proceedings soon and as I do not think there is a majority for another referendum in Parliament, the sooner people realise that and engage on finding a solution the better. As it turns out, it may well be that the Speaker, John Bercow, has effectively pushed that possibility up the agenda by declaring that it is a longstanding Parliamentary convention that no Government may bring back more than once a vote on essentially the same question. This of course has blown a complete hole in the Prime Minister's strategy of coming back again and again until there is approval for the withdrawal agreement. It does not mean that they cannot bring it back again but they must now persuade the Speaker that what they bring is substantially different to what has been voted upon before.
Ordinarily, that could be done with Government legislation, but the difficulty here is that this is an international treaty and both the EU and the Government have said repeatedly there could be no more changes, it does create more uncertainty. Enough change could be made for a further vote but the default position is still that we leave on the 29th March without a deal. There could still be a long extension to Article 50 to enable a new deal to be agreed and some have even suggested that Parliament could be prorogued. This means Parliament could shut down for a short period and start again with a new Queen's Speech. This would get round the Speaker's ruling, but would be an absolutely extraordinary way to go.
Brexit has paralysed Parliament and sucked the life out of all the other important issues that we should be discussing. I hope we can get back to doing that soon; in the meantime I will do what I can to help bring matters to a conclusion and of course continue to represent the people of Ellesmere Port and Neston to the best of my ability.
Member of Parliament for Ellesmere Port & Neston