JIM DOWD MP VOTES AGAINST BREXIT BILL
Jim Dowd, Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, was also among more than 40 Labour MPs who voted against the second reading of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
Jim Dowd told the House:
I always regard my prime responsibility to be towards my constituents.
My constituents have written to me in unprecedented numbers—I am sure that most Members will have had more contact with, and information from, constituents over this issue than just about any other; it certainly applies to me in my 25 years in this place—urging me to support the constituency’s vote.
I will support their objection to leaving the European Union, and I will vote against Second Reading tonight. I will vote for the SNP amendment and against the programme motion—and I will continue to do so.
I will not be complicit in something that I know and feel to be wrong, and to be against the best interests not just of my constituents or this city, of which my constituency is a small part, but of the whole country and all its people.
Anything else—whatever negotiations take place, whatever agreements are made—will be sub-optimal. Reform of the European Union, staying in the European Union and leading the campaign of reform was in the best interests of the British people, and I will do nothing now to undermine their position.
People have mentioned the status of European Union citizens in this country. I am sure that the Prime Minister is in earnest, and is being genuine, when she says that she wants to secure early agreement on reciprocal arrangements in Europe for British nationals living in EU countries.
I say, as do others, that the answer is in her own hands. She can reassure EU nationals living in this country now by saying that their future, and that of their families, is secure. She can then go, quite rightly, to the chambers and the councils of Europe, and say, “We demand the same from you.” [Hon. Members: “What if they say no?”]
There is only one reason why I would ever turn my back on the European Union and agree that we should leave. I would only do that if members of the EU denied British citizens the right that we can give to EU nationals.
That is indeed precisely the point. We can do that, and we can do it now.
The reason UKIP has so little traction in London, for example, is that most Londoners, within a generation or two, are immigrants themselves—not necessarily from overseas, but from other parts of the United Kingdom: from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the north or the south-west.
The idea of “the other” is nothing new to Londoners. I agree with what Members have said about the pace of social change. People need to feel that they are in control of it, that there is a role for them, and that they understand the nature of the change that is being effected.
I will vote as I have indicated because I believe it to be right. That might, in the fullness of time, prove to be a mistake on my part, but I nevertheless believe it to be right.
What worries and depresses me about today’s proceedings is that I fear that many Members will vote tonight for something that they know is not right, because it is expedient for them to do so.
I shall not join those ranks. I shall do whatever I can to ensure that the deal that will inevitably follow is the best it can possibly be, but I will not be complicit in undermining the position of the British people. (Sources: WhatDoTheyKnow.com / Hansard 2:56 pm, 1st February 2017)