Parliament is dealing with a bill which will give the government the power to exit the EU. I have interrupted my maternity leave to vote for this bill because I think it’s so important. Brexit is now the central issue of our times and I was determined to play my part in upholding the result of the referendum. I have monitored the issue closely during my absence, of course including my constituents' correspondence.
I am extremely grateful to all the constituents who’ve let me have their opinion on this. Obviously, as there was at the time of the referendum, there is a range of views on the issue. However, the matter was decided by the referendum, and the government and Parliament must now implement the result. However any of us may have voted in that referendum, the result was clear and if we're democrats we respect it.
Some people are concerned that their MP’s action now might clash with what the majority of the constituency voted back in June last year. In the case of Norwich North, this isn’t so. When it's reported that Norwich opted predominantly to remain in the EU, this refers to the city council area, which is not the same as the constituency of Norwich North. The best estimate for that, by a University of East Anglia academic, is that Norwich North in fact polled 57% to leave the EU. This is because I represent areas of the city and areas of Broadland too. To me, though, it's not about a statistics dispute - it's about respecting the national result and getting on with it.
Some are concerned especially that we should stay in the Single Market or retain Freedom of Movement. My own view is that we have been clearly instructed to leave the EU and it is not fair or honest to British voters to try to hold on to bits of membership, like membership of the Single Market, or membership of the EU's immigration rules, as we leave.
I thought constituents might want to read the government's freshly published 'White Paper' which details their intended approach to these choices.
I also know that some constituents are worried about their own family’s future, especially if they are married to, or close friends with, or colleagues with nationals of other EU countries, and I sympathise with this concern. You will see in this link that the government wants to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States, as early as possible.
There are certainly challenges ahead in getting the best for Britain and Norwich. Before I took maternity leave, I spoke in Parliament on behalf of my constituents to argue for an outward-looking country post-Brexit. As we have thousands of jobs in Norwich which depend on financial services, as well as the exciting sectors of digital and tech, the ambitious science sector, a thriving cultural scene, and a strong tourism industry, I want these sectors to continue to thrive.
I return fully in April. Scrutiny in Parliament of Brexit on behalf of my constituents will be one of my main priorities. As the Prime Minister writes in the White Paper – let’s get on with it, make a success of it, create even more opportunities in Norwich, and secure something really great for future generations.