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My constituency voted to remain by a large margin, and I voted to remain, so coming to the conclusion that I should support this Bill this evening has been very difficult. In 2015, I stood for election on a manifesto that promised a referendum. Soon after, I voted in favour of a Bill to put that referendum before the British people. In December, I voted for a motion calling on the Government to invoke article 50 by the end of March. I did so because the democratic process had been undertaken, and it would be wrong of me to ignore the result.
I was disappointed by the result of the referendum, but this indecision and uncertainty cannot continue indefinitely. Voting against triggering article 50 would prolong the uncertainty. We will leave the European Union; that much is sure. Delaying that process, which is, in effect, all that the vote will achieve, can only have negative implications for our economy. Any attempt to overturn the decision made would damage this country’s reputation for democracy, which all of us in this place prize so highly. It is time for this House and the nation to come together, not only to mitigate the risks of Brexit, but to exploit the opportunities. The best interests of our constituents must be promoted and protected, whether through trade or an industrial strategy.
Warwick and Leamington is home to a thriving local economy, a superb education system and constituents with an outward-looking and inclusive approach. That will not change as a result of our impending exit from the EU. Now is the time to set out a positive vision for the UK and to turn that vision into reality.