Emily Thornberry: ‘In my view it would be a grave mistake for Labour to try to get in the way of triggering Article 50’
Published: 27 January, 2017
by KOOS COUVÉE
EMILY Thornberry has defended Labour’s position on Brexit, saying it would be a “grave mistake” if the party stood in the way of triggering the process to leave the EU.
More than 75 per cent of voters in Islington voted to remain in the European Union in last year’s referendum.
Labour has been criticised by remainers for whipping MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50, which begins the formal process of exiting the EU.
Several shadow ministers with constituencies in strongly pro-remain areas have said they would vote against Brexit when a bill is introduced. Former Town Hall leader Catherine West, who represents Hornsey and Wood Green, and Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq have said they will vote against.
But Ms Thornberry said it would be wrong for Labour to do so. “I have every sympathy with MPs that what they ought to be doing is represent their constituents and their responsibility begins and ends with that,” the Islington South and Finsbury MP told the Tribune.
“I don’t agree though. There’s a balance to be made, when you are an MP you have to represent the local and national party.
“In my view it would be a grave mistake for Labour to try to get in the way of triggering Article 50.
“If we held a referendum and the political class says we are not going to agree with you, what would happen to our democracy? You have to be prepared to go with the decision the public make.”
Nick Turton, chairman of Islington in Europe, which campaigns to keep Britain in or “as close as possible to” the EU, said Labour should fight for a vote on a choice between the deal that the government will negotiate or remaining in the EU.