Amber Rudd – why I voted the way I did… a message to my constituents

There have been calls today for Amber Rudd to either resign her cabinet post or be sacked by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Many believe Ms Rudd broke the convention of collective responsibility which requires government ministers to vote for government policy regardless of their own personal views. In the past ministers unable to uphold the principle of collective responsibility have resigned from office.

Last night in the House of Commons Ms Rudd abstained in a vote about whether or not the option of a so-called ‘no deal’ Brexit should be removed from the negotiating table. Also abstaining were fellow cabinet ministers David Mundell, David Gauke and Greg Clark. There has been confusion following the vote as to whether ministers were told that while they could not vote against the government it was acceptable for them to abstain.

Filmed leaving her London home for TV news broadcasts this morning Ms Rudd was uncharacteristically tight-lipped.

At lunchtime she issued the following statement in a press release entitled: “Amber’s message to her constituents following vote on Government motion…”

In the statement she says: “Last night I abstained on the main motion in the House of Commons which asked whether we should leave the European Union on March 29 without a deal.

“To do so would, in my view, do generational damage to our economy and security. It is a mistake to leave the EU without a deal, but it is right to prepare to do so just in case so we can mitigate any damage as best as we can.

“With regard to this vote, we had been told it would be free one, so MPs could vote with their consciences, and that the Prime Minister would support not leaving the European Union on March 29th without a deal.

“I had voted against the earlier ‘Spelman’ amendment during the day which its own author tried to withdraw, believing the main Government motion was more powerful. That amendment asked us to rule out no-deal Brexit at any time.

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“However that amendment did pass, albeit very narrowly, and the main motion then became the only opportunity to vote to prevent no deal at the end of this month which is completely consistent with government policy.

“What is also government policy is to leave with a good deal and that is what we have.

“Next time I can vote to leave the European Union, I will do so once again. This will be the third time I have voted to leave.

“The fall out now means that unless Parliament backs a deal, we will be forced to have an extension granted to us by the European Union to avoid crashing out with no  deal. Something that was totally avoidable.

“This is because if Brexit is unfortunately delayed after today’s votes, it is because many of my colleagues in the Commons have refused to join those of us who have consistently voted for the Prime Minister’s good deal, which will deliver the best possible exit from the European Union.

“I wanted March 29th to be a day of new beginnings when we could start to focus on maximising the prospects for the UK outside the European Union. I have consistently voted and acted to support the Prime Minister’s plan to leave the European Union.

“However, we are once more trying to find a way to leave the European Union consistent with our commitment to maintain a strong relationship with Europe. I continue to support that. I continue to support the PM in delivering an agreement.”

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