Tulip Siddiq told Jeremy Corbyn: ‘The most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.’ [Image: Anna Gordon for the Guardian].

Theresa May has published her silly 137-word Article 50 Bill and it’s exactly what you should have expected after the Supreme Court’s decision on the sovereignty of Parliament.

It’s a Bill to take that sovereignty away from Parliament and allow her to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty whenever she fancies.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he will impose a three-line whip demanding that Labour MPs attend Parliament and vote in support of Article 50 being invoked. This has created a certain amount of grief among those who, perhaps, do not understand the issues and opportunities presented by the way the EU question is playing out.

I’m not sure I understand it – remember that I am only a member of the public, the same as anybody else, observing from the sidelines, so to speak. But here are my observations, for whatever they’re worth:

Mr Corbyn is not wrong to impose his whip because this Bill, and the vote on it, is where Labour MPs have to decide whether to support or oppose triggering Brexit.

The Tories were always going to pull a dirty trick like this if they lost at the Supreme Court. They have the majority in Parliament, which means nothing Labour does – at all – could stop this Bill being passed unless (I’m told) 22 Tory MPs rebel.

That is possible, depending on what is in the government’s White Paper on its Brexit plan, and whether it is published before the debate and vote next week.

We should all bear in mind that the Conservative Party’s conduct on Brexit has been a shambles.

There should have been an exit plan in place before the referendum was called, so we all knew what was at stake. Everything that has happened since is a consequence of this unforgivable omission.

If the White Paper comes out in time, it is possible that enough Remain-leaning (or even Leaver) Tories will be disgruntled enough to harumph their way through the No lobby.

If not, then anything Labour does can only possibly have symbolic value.

Therefore Labour must support the move to leave the EU – that’s democracy.

Labour will also, under such conditions, table a large number of amendments because, in the absence of a White Paper, the party can argue that – as the Tories have failed to explain what Brexit will mean – it is up to Parliament to do so in the debate.

Any amendment that is voted down provides the opportunity for Labour (or any other opposition party) to explain that the proposal it embodies will not be part of the Tories’ Brexit and that this is deplorable.

So despite being unable to win the vote, Labour sticks to its principle of supporting the people and also exposes the weaknesses of the Tories.

Ms Siddiq’s concern for her constituents is touching but misplaced. The referendum was a national vote and the result in particular constituencies is irrelevant to it.

In such matters, it is the duty of politicians to bow to the will of the nation as a whole – and to stand up for them, fighting for guarantees that their decision cannot be turned to their disadvantage.

By quitting, Ms Siddiq has played into the hands of unscrupulous operators like the Tory candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election, Jack Brereton, who told the public, “A vote for Labour will let them think they can ignore and forget what you voted for in the EU referendum.”

That is a mistake – but not one that Jeremy Corbyn will be accused of making.

Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the Labour frontbench, telling the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that she could not reconcile herself to the party’s three-line whip to vote for triggering article 50.

In her letter to Corbyn, the shadow minister for early years said voting to start the process of leaving the EU would be a betrayal of her north London constituents, three-quarters of whom voted to remain in the EU.

Source: Labour MP Tulip Siddiq resigns from frontbench over article 50 vote | Politics | The Guardian

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