The day of the EU referendum result I set out clearly my position on Brexit. While I voted Remain and was deeply disappointed by the result, the outcome of the referendum was clear. A majority of voters in the country as a whole voted for Brexit, and it would be unthinkable for us to try and override this democratic free vote. I remain confident that with strong and stable government we will rise to the challenge, not only because we must but also because our history has shown us to be a resilient, determined nation who do far more than survive adversity – we come out stronger.
That is why it is right to trigger Article 50 and start the process of withdrawing from the EU. Throughout this process it is my job to stand up for the key issues important to Oxford and Abingdon. This means protecting local jobs and supporting economic growth, ensuring our life sciences industry continues to thrive and of course safeguarding the rights of EU nationals living in the UK as well as the rights of UK citizens in Europe once Article 50 is invoked. It has always been the case that Parliament would play an important role in scrutinising our Brexit plan, and I am pleased that the Prime Minister has committed to putting the final withdrawal deal to a vote in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I firmly believe that in working to secure the best possible deal for the UK the Government must ensure that the views of those who voted Remain as well as those who voted to Leave are taken in to account.
I have been discussing rights of EU citizens with Ministers who have assured me that this is a top priority for the Government as we go in to negotiations. Indeed Ministers would have preferred to have reached agreement to do this already, but some EU member states have wished to wait until negotiations begin which can only be once Article 50 has been triggered. We cannot unilaterally guarantee the status of European citizens when no reciprocal agreement has been reached, but I am assured this will be done as soon as possible.
I have also been meeting with residents who have concerns about the status of EU nationals. I would encourage my constituents to get in touch if they are worried about their own immigration status, or would like clarification of the Government’s position, and I will be happy to take up any issues with the Home Office.
I will continue to respond to all those constituents who are writing to me about these issues and make representations direct to Ministers, and I’ll be meeting with local employers and key stakeholders to talk through concerns and take any and all queries to the Government. Above all I know that we have to send the message across the international community that Britain is open for business as a willing and reliable partner, and of course that we remain a Science Superpower to be reckoned with.
Ultimately, the measure of the referendum is not the outcome, but how we respond to it as a nation. This will take the best of our resilience, our whole concentration and a consistent approach. I must make absolutely clear that I intend to play my full part as Parliament helps to secure the best possible deal for the UK, fighting to protect local jobs and prosperity as I always have done.