Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench team after the Labour leader said he would order his MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.
The shadow minister for early years told Corbyn she “cannot reconcile” her pro-EU beliefs with voting to start the Brexit process.
Siddiq represents a London constituency which voted heavily to ‘Remain’ at the referendum. “I have always been clear – I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster,” she said in a letter to Corbyn.
After days of speculation, Corbyn revealed on Thursday afternoon impose a three-line whip on his MPs when it comes to a vote. Shadow ministers would be expected to resign or be fired if they defy the order.
Shadow business secretary Clive Lewis had hinted he would vote against triggering Article 50, however he confirmed on Thursday he would obey the whip.
Speaking to Sky News, Corbyn said: “It will be a clear decision that we want all of our MPs to support the Article 50 vote when it comes up next week. It’s clearly a three-line whip.
“I’m asking all of our MPs not to block article 50 but to make sure it goes through next week.”
Tulip Siddiq’s resignation letter in full:
Corbyn’s decision came as the government published its European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - which if passed will give Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50.
The prime minister hopes to begin the formal exit process before the end of March.
The legislation will face attempts to amend it from all sides, while some MPs and peers will just oppose it outright - although the Government is confident that it can get the legislation through Parliament.
Members in both Houses will be acutely aware that appearing to frustrate the progress of the Bill would risk accusations that they are going against the will of the people expressed in last year’s referendum.
But the Liberal Democrats have vowed to oppose Article 50 unless there is a guarantee of a fresh public vote on the final Brexit deal agreed with Brussels, and the SNP has vowed to table 50 amendments to the legislation.
There will also be pressure on ministers to produce the promised White Paper on Brexit - announced by May at Prime Minister’s Questions - before the crucial votes on triggering Article 50.
Labour is likely to table amendments to the Article 50 Bill on protecting workers’ rights and the environment, as well as ensuring the Government is subjected to scrutiny during negotiations.
And it is expected to try to amend the Bill to require a “meaningful” vote at the end of the process.