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As Members, we make difficult decisions every day. Some of them are of local significance and others take on national significance. The only reason we have the ability to make these decisions in the House is that our local constituents gave us their consent and voted for us at the general election. The point has been made to me that we are not delegates, but when all my neighbours, local business people, local pharmacists, local health professionals and local political allies and, indeed, opponents are telling me to take a stand, I cannot help but feel that this is the right course of action. I did not want to resign from my Front-Bench role. I know it was not a great office of state, but it was an important role that allowed me to hold the Government to account over their aspirations for social mobility.
Today, we are debating whether to trigger article 50 and give the Prime Minister permission to exit the EU. I feel that I would be abandoning my duty to my constituents, who have overwhelmingly and unwaveringly made the point that they do not want to leave the EU—75% voted to remain—if I voted for the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer made the point powerfully from the Dispatch Box yesterday that this decision has not been easy. It has been in a haze of conflicting emotions that the Labour party has sought to decide what to do, but for me there are two main reasons for voting against the Bill.
The first concerns the future of the 17,000 EU nationals living in my constituency. Some people have accused me of taking this stand only to ensure my re-election at the next election, but those EU nationals cannot vote for me anyway. I am taking this stand because in Hampstead and Kilburn we do not wince when we hear people speaking a different language on public transport; we do not scapegoat others for the pressures on our health system, criminal justice system and housing just because they do not look like us or sound like us; and we do not indulge in baseless theories that our country is at breaking point. Rather, we celebrate these EU nationals—they are as much a part of our fabric as anyone else and have as much right to be here as the generations before them. If I vote for the Bill, I will be abandoning my responsibility to these EU nationals.
The second reason I will be voting against the Bill concerns the lack of access to the single market, which will affect three main groups in my constituency. The first are the self-employed, who have argued that they need tariff-free trade with the EU. The second are those in the scientific and technical industries. In the last 10 years, the scientific funding from EU sources has increased by 73%, and at this point their projects are in jeopardy. The final group are those in the financial services and insurance sectors, who have no clarity over the future of their passporting rights.
These are the reasons why in good conscience I cannot vote for the Bill. To quote my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn, this is not how we do things in the House. We need clarity. We need to see the economic impact of this decision. In good conscience and for the sake of my constituents, whether they can vote for me or not, I will not be voting for the Bill today.