Margot James MP: A relief to be home after turmoil of Commons
Stourbridge MP Margot James reflects on a tempestuous week.
It was something of a relief to get back to my constituency yesterday after the turmoil we have seen in Westminster throughout this week.
I had expected a difficult week – but nothing prepared me for the possibility that the Prime Minister would chuck me, along with 20 of my colleagues, out of the Conservative Parliamentary Party!
Since then, I have been very touched by the extent of support I have received from constituents in Stourbridge, writes MP Margot James.
There has also been a sense of bewilderment about what “losing the Conservative whip” means.
Basically it means that I remain the MP for Stourbridge until Parliament is dissolved ahead of a general election.
Oddly, I continue to sit with other Conservative MPs on the government benches. That is because I am still a member of the Conservative Party.
There are basically two real consequences to the events of this week.
First I will not be able to stand as a Conservative Party candidate at the next election.
Secondly, I don’t have to vote with the government.
And if the second consequence sounds to you like the Prime Minister has shot himself in the foot, you’d be right!
Parliament had only been sitting for three days under the new Prime Minister and during that short time he has managed to lose three or four key votes.
He has also turned a Government majority of one or two in to a minority of 43.
Going back to the vote that caused all the trouble in the first place, it was to enable time for legislation that compels the government to apply for an extension in the Brexit negotiations from October 31 to January 31.
But this is only the case IF the government hasn’t either agreed a deal with the European Union OR got Parliamentary approval to leave without such a deal by October 19.
Stourbridge voted to leave the European Union, with 63 per cent deciding to support Brexit.
So, in spite of my personal view to the contrary, I have voted three times in Parliament for the Withdrawal Agreement.
What I am not prepared to countenance is leaving without a deal.
Quite apart from the highly damaging consequences for this country that cutting ourselves off from our nearest neighbours would involve, I do not believe there is a mandate for such an outcome.
Nevertheless, in spite of the strength of my own view, I found this vote to be an extremely difficult decision.
I spoke to several close friends and supporters locally that day. It really pained me to go against what I knew they wanted me to do.
I can honestly say it was the worst day of my working life since I went to the bank 20 years ago to hand over the title to my home as security for extending my company’s overdraft facility.
I knew what the consequences of voting against the government on Tuesday would be before I cast my vote.
The outcome is that I will cease to be MP for Stourbridge at the next election.
That is quite a shock and a source of sadness to myself and others.
But I am accepting of the situation and looking forward.
It has been an immense pleasure and privilege to serve the people of Stourbridge over the years.
I will always treasure the friendships I have made here and will continue to serve out my time in office with my usual enthusiasm and commitment.