A Labour MP who backed Brexit at the EU referendum will not vote to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, it emerged on Monday (30 January). Roger Godsiff, 70, said he made the decision after his Birmingham Hall Green constituents backed Remain.
"I made it clear, after the result was announced, that now that 'representative democracy' had returned I would not be voting to trigger Article 50 out of respect for the clearly expressed wishes of the majority of voters in my constituency," said Godsiff.
"This remains my position and I will not be voting to trigger Article 50 when Parliament votes on this issue."
Godsiff, who has described the EU as "failed project" and plans to abstain on the Article 50 vote, also criticised Jeremy Corbyn's decision to impose a three-line-whip on Labour MPs.
"The most sensible approach would have been to allow Labour MPs a free vote so that they could take into account the majority views of their constituents," he argued.
The comments come after former shadow early years education secretary Tulip Siddiq and former shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens quit Labour's frontbench to vote against the government's Article 50 bill.
The party unsuccessfully campaigned for Remain at the EU referendum, while 70% of Labour-held seats in England and Wales backed a Brexit, according to the University of East Anglia's Chris Hanretty.
Corbyn has promised not to block the UK's divorce from the EU, but he has tabled a number of amendments to the government's Article 50 bill, including an anti-tax haven amendment.
"We respect the will of the British people, but not the will of this Tory government to impose fewer rights at work and worse public services, while the largest corporations pay even less tax," the Labour leader said.
"Labour will ensure that the British people, through Parliament, have genuine accountability and oversight over the Brexit negotiations because no one voted to give Prime Minister Theresa May a free hand over our future."
The government was forced to table the Article 50 bill in parliament after losing a historic victory at the Supreme Court.
May has promised to invoke the mechanism to split from the EU by the end of March. The move will trigger two years' worth of talks between the UK and Brussels.
The Article 50 bill
A bill to:
Confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty
on European Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the
Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU
(1)The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European
Union, the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the EU.
(2)This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European
5Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.
2 Short title
This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act