Thursday, 2 February 2017

Dawn Butler joins Tulip Siddiq in voting against Article 50 and resigns shadow post

Dawn Butler  MP (Brent Central) yesterday joined the 47 Labour rebels who voted against the Article 50 Bill and resigned her position as Shadow Minister for Diverse Communities. She joined Tulip Siddiq  MP (Hampstead and Kilburn) in the No lobby. Brent residents had all three of their MPs in Corbyn's shadow team until the resignations, now only Barry Gardiner remains. Butler's vote followed her meeting with residents at Moore Spice in Wembley Park on Tuesday evening.

Butler tweeted:
Been an honour to serve in shadow cabinet doing a job I love. Can’t let down future generations voting against poor excuse of a bill.
In a statement to constituents Butler said:
In recent weeks I have been contacted by many constituents who have expressed their views with regards to the UK leaving the European Union.

I have heard passionate examples from both sides of the argument and since the High Court ruling last week, where it was clarified that Parliament must give its approval before official talks begin on exiting the European Union, the volume of correspondence to my office has increased.

I feel therefore, it is important I explain my position on this significant matter.

Having served as a delegate on the European Council I have seen first-hand just how important close working relationships are with our European neighbours.  I campaigned passionately to remain in the EU and was disappointed with the outcome of the referendum last year.

However, I respect the decision of the country and as a democrat I do not think that we should be campaigning for another in out referendum. I also respect my colleagues, constituents and the country as a whole and the debate from both sides.

The Labour Party is split on this issue because as a party we seek to represent the views of the whole country- not the 48% or the 52% - but the entirety. As we know, the country are also split on this matter.

Despite this, it is palpably clear that the Labour Party is united on fundamental issues that face our country and we will unite; as you have said many times, around the important issues of jobs, health, security, economy, rights and social justice.

I have made clear on many occasions that if I were given a vote in Parliament, I would vote to remain in the EU. I am proud to represent Brent Central and I am proud that we voted to overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and will vote to reflect the views of my constituency who elected me to be their voice in parliament.

I do not have confidence in Theresa May to negotiate the best deal for the UK.

I place my confidence and trust in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as Keir Starmer, Emily Thornberry and the whole Shadow Brexit team to hold the government to account every step of the way and I will support Labours amendments as they hold the Government to account.

I understand and appreciate the logic of allowing a second reading in order that amendments can be discussed at third reading and voted on at committee stage - amendments that will hopefully ensure:
  • Tariff-free access to the Single Market to protect jobs and our economy
  • The protection of social and environmental rights,
  • Security for EU citizens currently living in the UK
  • A meaningful vote at the relevant stage of the negotiations
Jeremy Corbyn has successfully moved the Government from their position of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ to one that has seen them agree to bring forward a white paper for parliament to properly scrutinise.

However due to my lack of confidence in Theresa May, I have decided that I cannot in good conscience vote for something that I believe will make my constituents worse off.

It is with all of this in mind that I am informing you of my decision to vote against second and third reading.

My position is clear and has not changed since the referendum last year, however I will continue to engage with colleagues and constituents on this hugely important matter. This has been a difficult process which has invoked strong reactions from people on both sides of this debate and it is very important that we heal the division that has resulted from this debate.
Warm regards,
Local Labour activist Graham Durham reacted angrily on Facebook this morning:
I feel very let down by my Labour MP Dawn Butler today..she has completely failed to consult local Party members (including any CLP officers and Executive members) before deciding to resign from the Shadow Cabinet and defy the instruction to vote for Article 50 thus adding to the attempts by the PLP rebels (the usual right wingers) to undermine Jeremy. Worse she called a public meeting, packed with Lib Dems, to which many Labour members were unable to gain access to announce her decision. When will Labour MPs realise that they only have the honour of being an MP because their local Labour Party chose them over many other good candidates and worked for them and that they have no right to pander to the voices of opposition parties who seek to destroy our Party?
Fellow activist Michael Calderbank tweeted: 
I respect and but think they made the wrong call. Labour MPs have to respect how people voted.
Calderbank praised Barry Gardiner MP (Brent North) for his 'mature and responsible view' which  had set out on the eve of the vote:
When Theresa May became Prime Minister after the referendum she made it clear that she would not give “a running commentary” on Brexit. The Labour Party demanded parliamentary scrutiny, a white paper, a vote to trigger article 50 and a parliamentary vote on the final deal after it is negotiated. The new Prime Minister refused them all.
The Labour Party in the House of Commons, and the Judiciary through the courts have now secured all these vital elements of democratic accountability.
The Supreme Court made it clear that the referendum vote determined that the UK would leave the European Union; but that it was for Parliament to determine how it should leave. I agree with the Supreme Court ruling. Although I voted and campaigned to remain, I am first and foremost a democrat. That means that I acknowledge that I lost the referendum vote. That means that I abide by its result even though I disagree with it. But I also agree with the Supreme Court that I must now as a Member of Parliament try to shape how we leave the EU in the best interests of the British people. That is why Labour has tabled a number of key amendments to the Bill.
64% of Labour voters across the country voted to Remain. But the majority of Labour MPs serve constituencies that voted by a majority to leave. The Labour Party is therefore presented both with a conflict of interests and a conflict of principles like no other party. In many ways we are much more representative of the divisions in the country over Brexit than any other political party. My view is that we must resolve the conflicts of principle and leave the conflicts of electoral interest to resolve themselves.
It is a uniquely valuable principle of our democracy that MPs have a special duty of care towards their constituents. We hold surgeries to deal with their individual problems and we represent them to various bodies and authorities to demand their rights. But our duty to represent our constituents does not in my view allow us to undermine the principle of democracy as a whole. I have enormous sympathy with all those of my colleagues who have wrestled with their conscience between the principle of democracy and the principle of representing their constituents but I am clear that I will respect the referendum result however much I disagree with it; and then I will try to mitigate its effects to secure the red lines that I and all my colleagues believe are so important.
Only by voting at 2nd Reading to trigger Article 50 do we move to the position where we can amend the bill and hold the Government to account to ensure: Tariff-free access to the Single Market to protect jobs and our economy, the protection of social and environmental rights, security for EU citizens currently living in the UK and a meaningful vote at a stage of the negotiations where it is still possible to change the outcome. Triggering Article 50 is only the beginning of a long process. We must and will hold the government to account every step of the way and secure an outcome that may not entirely satisfy either the 48% or the 52% but that is acceptable to the 100%. That is how democracy functions.
Finally I would ask everyone to reflect on how they would have felt if their side had won the referendum, but parliament had set aside the result and done the opposite. The anger that would be generated if politicians ignored the outcome would be immense and justified. I believe that leaving the EU will make us poorer. But undermining our own democracy would make us much poorer still.
Tulip Siddiq was backed by her local Labour Party GC:
Great GC last night. Our local party showed solid support for, & no dissent from, 's principled stand on
Caroline Lucas, Green MP, praised the Labour rebels on Twitter:
Big respect for the Labour MPs who voted against their party whip - they'll be proved to be on the right side of history.


Anonymous said...

Well done, Dawn. And spot on, Caroline. 'Jeremy' has been a disaster at every stage of the EU issue and the idea of the serial rebel calling on MPs to ignore what they believe and to line up with him, the Tories, Ukip, Farage, the Daily Mail, The Sun and Trump in the cause of 'discipline' and 'unity' (what an honour, Graham)is beyond ridiculous.

And those 'Lib Dems' who were supposed to have packed Dawn Butler's meeting. Nobody is born a Lib Dem and remains one forever. They're voters, and they can be drawn to a party or repelled from it to another by precisely an issue like Brexit and to what extent the parties, their leaders and individual MPs show clarity, coherence and leadership (or lack of it) on that issue.

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

So Brexit is about the future of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and not the future of this country? Brent Central voters didn’t vote for Dawn Butler to represent them: the local Labour Party did and later let us in on it? This is all news to me. Some of the commentary on social media and here by Labour Party activists is demeaning, sexist and racist (particularly as most of the backlash is from white men): as a mere woman and one of colour, my MP Ms Butler clearly cannot make the right decision without having that dictated to her by white men.
Ms Butler did something rather odd in modern British politics: she consulted her constituents, the majority of whom voted against leaving the European Union, and represented our interests.
The crux of her position lies here: “I have decided that I cannot in good conscience vote for something that I believe will make my constituents worse off.” However one wishes to look at Brexit, and the Labour Party’s clever machinations on how to secure amendments, the average British national or resident (from the EU or elsewhere) WILL be much worse off as a result. The British economy and businesses are already suffering. The points flagged for amendment, which Ms Butler agrees with, only cover a small part of the economic/social benefits of European Union membership for everyone.
So much contempt for the ordinary British voter and taxpayer makes Ms Butler’s stance both against the government and chauvinistic elements in her own party so much more important. I’m just sorry she had to give up her position within the party for it.

Martin Francis said...

I do not publish racist or sexist comments. Can you quote those in the above that you think are racist and/or sexist?

Anonymous said...

Dawn Butler had to choose between supporting Corbyn & the future of the Labour movement or undermining it. Despite voting for Corbyn as leader (yes an old white man but the choice of the party) & accepting a place in his shadow cabinet she has made a decision that risks conservatives remaining in. She needs to be deselected.

Mike Phipps said...

In response to Mike Hine, the fact is that whether Jeremy Corbyn imposed a one, two, three line whip or a free vote, he was always going to be criticised. For MPs like Dawn and Tulip, it's a difficult call whether to go with one's constituents or the national picture. But for the Labour Party as a whole, it would be quite wrong to ignore the referendum result.
The EU referendum exposed huge divisions which many people clearly felt had not been addressed. But it also unleashed a constitutional crisis on several fronts. There is a crisis of representation where many believed that voting in elections had not enabled them to express fully the anger or despair they feel at their marginalisation, which did not begin, but intensified with the 2008 crash.

Crises attract vultures and the conditions are being created, partly consciously, for disaster capitalism. This is inherent in much of May’s discourse: “taking back control” means rolling back workers’ rights, environmental protections and the welfare state. Jeremy Corbyn was absolutely right when he characterised this as making Britain an offshore tax haven, a refuge for plutocrats and an island of cheap labour.

We can’t rerun last year’s referendum, but we can reject this version of Brexit. Labour has to show it has broken with its past of taking working class voters for granted and standing by while neoliberal economics, initiated under Thatcher but continued under New Labour, destroyed jobs and hope. Now is an opportunity to show solidarity with these communities.

This is what Jeremy Corbyn did in his response to May’s Brexit strategy. He spoke for a Brexit that works not just for the City, but in the interests of all, that puts health and social care, decent jobs and living standards first, together with a better deal for young people and areas of the country that have been left behind for too long.

Access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs should be part of this. But we must also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a sustainable industrial strategy, putting power, resources and investment into local communities where needed, so that none is left behind.

The Tory vision is low taxes for the rich, low pay for the rest, under-funded public services in preparation for their further privatisation and finding someone to blame - the EU, migrants, claimants, whatever. It’s a ruthless, brutal, failed model that should be exposed for what it is - while seeking solutions to problems, not scapegoats.

We should argue that the Brexit negotiations enable us to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work. On border controls, we should stand proudly by our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution. EU citizens who are already here should have their rights guaranteed and international students should continue to be welcomed. While the Tories prefer to surrender access to the single market - and thus lose vital export markets and destroy jobs in order to pursue UKIP's agenda of cracking down on immigration, Labour should make access to the single market, without tariffs or encumbrances, its priority, recognising that this entails a commitment to free movement.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mike
I agree with pretty much all you say about the problems. But we live in a parliamentary democracy where a party needs to get elected in order to implement policies or at least needs to look as if it ever MIGHT get elected, in order to influence the actions of the ruling party. Corbyn looks incapable of achieving either of these in the foreseeable future. There is a 48%, (at least), anti-Brexit constituency in this country whose despair since last June Corbyn should be exploiting. It’s been left to the unprepossessing Tim Farron to make the running, the quotable quotes, the rallying calls of opposition to Brexit. On the day our chief negotiator resigned all Benn could manage was a mumbled ‘Er..not the best of timing really’.
We have elections every five years. How long does it take to ‘build a movement’? 2020 has already been written off. 2025? 2030? When the Brexit shit begins to hit the fan in a couple of years, voters won’t be worried that they weren’t listened to, they’ll be far more annoyed that anybody took any notice of what they said in a referendum characterised by simplism, hubris, lies, opportunism and corrupt media ownership. Whoever is the Labour leader in 5 years time will need to be able to show clearly that the by-then-completely-discredited Gove, Johnson, May, Fox, Murdoch, Dacre, Farage and Brexit itself were nothing whatever to do with them.

Mike Hine

Alison Hopkins said...

The claim that the meeting was "packed with Lib Dem members" ia absurd. For one thing, Dawn's own photos show about twenty attendees at most. And secondly, we Lib Dems had a long standing prior meeting. I don't actually know of any Lib Dem members who went - and given the sekrit squirrel nature of the whole event, that's not surprising.

For anyone to get irate that Labour members could not attend misses the whole point, surely? Wasn't this all about constituents views? But then, given Labour members seem to think it's they who "put Dawn where she is", perhaps that shows an indicative arrogance to the electorate.

Barry's constituents voted more for Brexit than Remain. Make what you will of that. I've my own opinion as to why Dawn did what she did.

Anonymous said...

Seriously some of these comments. I am a Labour Party member and voted remain. I respect and accept the national vote, however I expect my constituency MP to vote in the best interests of his or her constituents. I applaud Dawn Butler and Tulip Siddiq for doing so. The comments in the article about blind faith of Jeremy Corbyn is rich - he is the rightly elected leader of the Labour Party, unanimously and democratically so but when he was a back bench MP, how often did he vote with the Party line/whip?! For many of his decisions I agreed with his defiance of the party line as he was sticking to his principles and conveying the view of his constituents.just because he is now leader does not mean that other Mo's should not have the strength in their conviction to vote as they wish having consulted where possible with their constituents.

Anonymous said...

Typo above. Should be MPs

Anonymous said...

So anytime white men criticise black women it's because they are racist and/or sexist. What a pathetically paranoid way to view the world

Anonymous said...

Please share your opinion as to why Dawn did what she did?

Scott said...

We need electoral reform urgently, perhaps then - like Scotland successfully achieved; the rest of the isles can #MakeLabourHistory.

The Labour Party is like a bunch of cats, who knows what they'll do when it comes to anything. This Londoncentric party can't even be consistent across one borough in LONDON - the remaining part of the country with people who would support the out dated politics of Corbyn, let alone the Labour Party.

If Dawn Butler, Barry Gardiner and Tulip Sadiq were at all concerned about what happens with people from the EU, they wouldn't have disenfranchised them on the 18th June 2015 by voting against EU nationals resident in the UK being allowed to vote in the referendum the European Union.

Anonymous said...

On Question Time last night there was a classic example of 'the people who we haven't been listening to'. She voted Leave because of 'the straight bananas rules'. No really! Watch.

Call me an effete liberal elite metropolitan bubble-dweller, but she's also maybe a classic example of WHY we haven't been listening to her.

Mike Hine

Mike Phipps said...

In response to Mike Hine: don't write Jeremy Corbyn off just yet. It would be a difficult week for whoever was leading the Labour Party to ask their MPs to vote to endorse the result of a referendum which they didn't ask for and of which they campaigned for a different outcome. But if the communities that have been ignored and marginalised for so long are not to be written off and abandoned to UKIP, it's critical that Labour engage with their concerns. Brexit or no Brexit, May has nothing to offer these places, pummelled as they have been by 7 years of cuts and austerity, largely supported by the Lib Dems. Only Labour can address their problems - and in the process it's inevitable that it will face a blizzard of nationalist and corporate media abuse. So not easy, but no alternative.

Scott said...

Funnily enough, prior to the EU referendum I was explaining to my Greek friends why the majority of the country (aside from London and Scotland) was going to vote to leave the EU - and it was precisely because of things like this. For as long as I can remember the public has been told of 'silly rules' from the EU ranging from bananas to the case of the Metric Martyrs and I suppose even today where the EU (apparently) wishes for the EU blue with stars to be placed on sports shirts around national emblems. This has been drip, drip, drip for years and undermined the credibility of all the good things the EU has done.