Commenting on tonight’s vote on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, Frank Field MP said:
‘I voted against the amendment which would have wrecked the implementation of the referendum decision to leave the EU. I then voted for the bill that will begin the withdrawal negotiations. I did so because I believe on balance that leaving the EU is the best course for the country. I would have done so even if a majority of constituents taking part in the referendum had voted otherwise; a majority of them happened to vote in favour of leaving.
‘I voted on the basis of risks. Staying in the EU would have had risks, and never more so when the single currency implodes. Leaving has risks in that we will need to negotiate our own treaties with the rest of the world.
‘I don’t accept that the EU will be able to punish us that easily. If, for example, there is no agreement for the City of London, we may see a financial crisis developing in the EU banking system which any sensible European would be anxious to prevent. So the negotiations will swing between advantages and disadvantages, and we must aim for an agreement – however it is presented by the EU – which is good for both sides.
‘That will prove to be difficult, but we must set out with that aim. To encourage that aim I believe we should universally cease using EU citizens in Britain as a bargaining chip. Getting off on a high note will, I hope, help to savour the negotiations which will be long, hard, detailed, and frustrating for most of the time.’