Anna Soubry: Why I’m not a ‘traitor’

Anna Soubry MP. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images.

Anna Soubry MP. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

This is the email Anna Soubry sent to her constituents ahead of a key vote in the House of Commons on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

'Sir Winston Churchill wrote: 'The first duty of a member of Parliament is to do what he thinks in his faithful and disinterested judgement is right and necessary for the honour and safety of Great Britain. His second duty is to his constituents, of whom he is the representative but not the delegate. Burke's famous declaration on this subject is well known. It is only in the third place that his duty to party organisation or programme takes rank. All these three loyalties should be observed, but there in no doubt of the order in which they stand under any healthy manifestation of democracy.'

'You may recall that in the run up to last year's General Election I made it clear that if I were re-elected, I would continue to make the case for the Customs Union and the Single Market (I have written more on both below).

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'Like many candidates over many decades, I did not agree with an important part of my party's manifesto. It is, perhaps ironic that many of my Conservative colleagues who say I am reneging on our 2017 manifesto have themselves, made a career of standing for Parliament in defiance of the longstanding Conservative policy to remain in the EU. Most, like the Brexit Secretary of State, David Davis have voted against our party over a hundred times over the years! I don't believe David has ever been called a traitor and nor should he.

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'By way of a non-Brexit example, a number of my Conservative MP colleagues are openly opposed to HS2 and were elected on that basis to Parliament. No one (and that includes me) has any difficulty when they accordingly break three line whips and vote against the Government on HS2.

'But apparently what is sauce for the goose is not available for the gander.

'Last week I did not support the Government when I voted for us to stay in the EEA (in effect the single market) and to form a new customs union (the actual amendment I supported was very tame). This was true to the undertakings I gave last year but in any event, on Brexit, a subject that divides MPs within both main parties, I believe it is critical we put our country's interest above loyalty to our party.

'To be frank I am getting a tad tired of being told I am trying to stop or thwart Brexit. I am not; I voted to trigger Article 50 which means we will be leaving the EU in March 2019.

'The EU Referendum result for the Broxtowe constituency (the declared vote was for the Borough which includes Eastwood and Brinsley) has been calculated at 51/52 % Leave and 49/48% Remain, of those who voted. Last June, with my views on Brexit and pledges on the single market and customs union widely known, I received the biggest Conservative vote in over 25 years (my majority was reduced because Labour picked up an extra 6,000 votes ironically many from former UKIP voters).

'The duty of an MP is to represent all their constituents and that includes the 53% who did not vote for me last June as well as the 48% who voted Remain.

'When history recalls events of the last two years it will note the failure of my Government following the Referendum to include the 48% in shaping Brexit and working to reunite our divided country.'

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