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Rebel by proxy: Tulip Siddiq defies Labour whip to vote for second EU referendum

'No one dictates how I vote on Brexit, except my constituents'

14 March, 2019 — By Richard Osley

HAMPSTEAD and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq defied the Labour party whip today (Thursday) and voted for a second referendum on Brexit.

The Labour leadership had called on its MPs to abstain on an amendment laid down by Sarah Woolaston, the former Conservative who defected to The Independent Group earlier this month.

A raft of ‘remain’ supporters, including the People’s Vote campaign, had called for patience in the demand for a second national vote with today’s parliamentary schedule set up to vote on extension to Britain’s departure date.

But some MPs have resolved to support the ‘people’s vote’ whenever it is put before them, including Ms Siddiq. She has maintained that she will not be told how to vote on Britain’s divorce from Europe, and has already voted against the whip previously on the issue.

Around three-quarters of people who took part in the 2016 referendum from her constituency had voted to remain in the EU; one of the heaviest remain votes in the country.

The second referendum amendment was emphatically defeated with hordes of Labour MPs sitting in their seats, abstaining from the vote.

The party’s leadership is facing near hour-by-hour questions on what the party’s position is on Europe following a chaotic week at Westminster, which has seen Prime Minister Theresa May humiliated with the sight of her withdrawal deal being rejected by MPs again and open warfare breaking out among Conservative MPs with contrasting ambitions for Brexit.

A vote on seeking the extension, however, did pass this evening and the UK is now almost certain not to leave the EU on the long-set date of March 29, despite nearly two years of negotiation.

Ms Siddiq was not at the House of Commons for the voting – she is recovering from the caesarean birth of her son last month – but was able to vote using the proxy system set up in the wake of her appearance in a wheelchair last month. She was wheeled into parliament having delayed the date of baby Raphael’s birth by a day so she could join MPs voting against Mrs May’s deal when it was first thrown out by MPs.

Ironically, her proxy today (Thursday) was the Labour whip Vicky Foxcroft, who found herself helping Ms Siddiq break the party’s line despite her role in the party.

“A people’s vote is the only way out of this Tory Brexit disaster,” Ms Siddiq told the New Journal this evening (Thursday). “The opportunity to vote for a public vote and so I voted for it. Simple.”

Asked what she thought of the People’s Vote campaign’s call for patience, she said: “No one dictates how I vote, except my constituents.”

Other Labour MPs to defy the whip on the second referendum included London MPs David Lammy and Stella Creasy.

Holborn and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer, who is fronting the party’s front bench response to Brexit, abstained.

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