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June 29th 2017

Tonight I supported a cross party amendment in Parliament which backed continued membership of the single market which Norway has even though it is not in the European Union.

Basically, I am a believer in a soft Brexit which protects jobs and investment into Keighley and Yorkshire. I think back benchers have a key role in this Parliament in speaking out and using their votes to get a good Brexit deal. I am confident that there is no majority in the new House of Commons for a hard Brexit and certainly not for walking away without any deal but if a soft Brexit is to be achieved it must be argued for.

It is not a comfortable thing to break the Labour whip but I have never been a great fan of abstaining on votes which was the whip on this occasion. My action was certainly not a comment on our leadership team of Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson. I simply feel that in this hung Parliament backbenchers have a role to play in the Brexit debate.

I know our Leader Jeremy Corbyn well. When I was a backbencher before as Selby's MP I found myself rebelling with him on several occasions most notably on Iraq. I think he well understands that if you are talking about policies rather than personalities part of the job of a backbencher is sometimes to vote for what you think is best for the country even if it means breaking the whip.

I promised the people of Keighley and Ilkley to serve them as a proud member of the Labour Party but also as an independent minded MP.