Fri, 10 Feb 2017
NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon said he could "not vote against the will of the people" backing the beginning of Brexit.
A large majority of MPs, including Mr Benyon, voted in favour of triggering Article 50 on Wednesday giving the government the green light to begin negotiations to leave the EU.
The approved European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has now passed to the House of Lords.
The Tory MP had come in for heavy criticism following the first commons vote last week in which he also backed the Bill to leave the EU.
Many remainers in West Berkshire made it clear they believed Mr Benyon's loyalties should lie with his constituents rather than with the final referendum result.
The district had voted to remain in the EU by a four per cent majority in last year's EU referendum.
Following this week's commons vote Mr Benyon said: "I entirely understand how people who voted remain feel.
"I'm glad West Berkshire, like me, voted to remain and it gives me a strong mandate to get the best deal but I'm a democrat and I will not vote against the will of the people in a national referendum."
Wednesday's vote followed 40 hours of debate in the House of Commons in which nine amendments to the Bill were rejected including a proposal by the Liberal Democrats which called for a second national referendum to approve the final Brexit deal.
"It would have bound the government's hands by encouraging Europe governments to give us a really bad deal in the hope it would get voted down," argued Mr Benyon who voted against the amendment.
The Tory MP also voted against an amendment to give all EU citizens in the UK permanent residency after Britain leaves the EU.
Defending the decision Mr Benyon said he would "dearly like to have the issue resolved" but blamed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for refusing to guarantee the rights of UK nationals living in Europe.
He said: "There are millions of people who live abroad and we want to secure the same rights for them as EU citizens living in the UK."
Mr Benyon was confident the matter would be resolved, however, saying the issue was a "simple one".
He added: "European citizens living in West Berkshire should not at all be nervous about their status."