Lancaster and Morecambe MPs who voted Remain will not stand in the way of Brexit

PM Theresa May
PM Theresa May
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The MP’s for Lancaster and Morecambe both voted in favour of triggering Article 50, paving the way for the UK to leave the European Union.

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said her campaign to stay in the EU “failed to persuade”, and that Prime Minister Theresa May should not be blocked from starting Brexit negotiations.

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said that while not campaigning to leave the EU, he would “respect the democratic will of the people” and will be voting for all of the legislation to allow Article 50 to be triggered by the end of March.

Meanwhile South Lakeland MP Tim Farron voted against the government yesterday, and urged the government to give British people “the final say” on how we leave the EU.

On February 1, MPs backed the European Union Bill by 498 votes to 114, with 47 Labour rebels voting against.

An official policy document setting out the government’s Brexit plans will be published later.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris

The White Paper was promised following pressure from MPs.

Ms Smith said: “The Labour Party is a fiercely internationalist party and a pro-European party. It is because of these beliefs that I campaigned to stay in the EU, and these beliefs will never change. There is no doubt that the EU is our major trading partner and that the single market and customs union have benefited UK businesses and our economy for many years. I recognise more widely the benefits of collaborative working across the EU in fields of research, medicine, technology, education, arts and farming. I also recognise the role that the EU plays in tackling common threats, such as climate change and serious organised crime.

“But we failed to persuade. We lost the referendum. Despite the best efforts of a small yet dedicated group of Remain campaigners here in Lancaster – we lost. “Our council area voted leave, my constituency voted leave and the country voted to leave. Yes, the result was close. Yes, there were lies and half-truths — none worse than the false promise of an extra £350 million a week for the NHS.

“Yes, technically the referendum is not legally binding. But the result was not technical; it was deeply political, and politically the notion that the referendum was merely a consultation exercise to inform Parliament holds no water.

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron

South Lakeland MP Tim Farron

“When I was urging people to vote in the referendum and to vote to remain, I told them that their vote really mattered and that a decision was going to be made. I was not inviting them to express a view.

“Although I campaigned for remain I am, above all, a democrat. Had the outcome been to remain, I would have expected the result to be honoured, and that cuts both ways. A decision was made on 23 June last year to leave the EU. I wish the result had gone the other way—I campaigned passionately for that—but as a democrat I have to accept the result. It follows that the Prime Minister should not be blocked from starting the article 50 negotiations, which is why I voted for the EU Bill at this week’s second reading. But I will not be giving her a blank cheque on what the UK out of the EU looks like and I will be supporting amendments next week which ensure EU citizens here in the UK are protected, as are our workers rights and the environmental protections as well as trade and sectors like higher education.”

Speaking after voting for the second reading of the bill and voting to give the Prime Minister the right to trigger Article 50, Mr Morris said: “The referendum on the 23rd June was won by the leave campaign by over a million votes.

“I may not have campaigned to leave the European Union but I certainly respect the democratic will of the people in this country which was overwhelmingly to leave.

“I am fully supportive of our Prime Minister Theresa May and will be voting for all of the legislation to allow Article 50 to be triggered by the end of March.”

Mr Farron said: “As a democrat, I respect the will of the people. Although our area voted to remain, the country overall voted to leave, so the government has a mandate to go away and negotiate a deal with the EU.

“However, the question now is ‘Who will sign the deal off?’ It will either be Theresa May’s government in Whitehall, or it will be the privileged few who sit in parliament, or it will be the people as a whole. We say that it must be the people as a whole. We started this process with democracy, we should end it with democracy - not a stitch-up between the government and Brussels. I will only back Article 50 if the government commits to giving the British people the final say on whether they want to accept the government’s deal or stay in the EU.

“I will also continue to push the government to maintain membership of the single market, so that local farmers and businesses can continue to export to the world’s largest single market without facing crippling tariffs.”