It is a privilege to serve as the MP for Neath. I have always put my constituents and constituency first in all that I do, and will continue to do so. I also have a duty to support the democratically elected Leader of the Labour Party and since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as our Leader, I have supported him both publicly and privately.
The EU Referendum has been a hard fought campaign and the result in Neath, where constituents voted 57% to 43% in favour of leaving the EU shocked me to the core. Having been a Welsh Labour European Parliamentary Candidate, I know exactly what Wales and Neath will lose when we cease to be a member of the EU.
I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday speaking with constituents and members of the Labour Party about the consequences of Brexit. Many constituents told me that they didn’t realise that their “protest vote” meant that we would be leaving the EU and added that “it doesn’t matter because we can all have another vote in 5 years time”. Unfortunately, it isn’t like a General Election vote which occurs every 5 years, this EU Referendum vote is for life.
On the other hand, some people told me that they were pleased to Brexit and couldn’t wait to get our country back, get rid of all the immigrants coming over here stealing our jobs and that the UK Government could use the £350m given to Europe to replace the money that Neath would now not be receiving as a consequence of losing the funding that comes from the EU.
I don’t believe any of these issues are the case. We have never lost control of the U.K., but have instead become part of the European Union which has kept peace in Europe for many years. Only around 2% of Neath’s population are foreign-born, and only half of these have come from EU countries. Many are from Ireland, France or Spain, countries where many British Ex-Pats choose to live. I believe in multiculturalism, because we can share and learn from other countries. Wales is a net beneficiary of EU funds and I know that the UK Tory Government will not replace this European funding which we will now lose.
Over the weekend a number of the Shadow Front Bench tendered their resignations, prompted by Jeremy Corbyn’s sacking of Hilary Benn. I did not resign because I was hoping that unity would be restored and that I would be able to continue to function as a member of the Shadow Justice Team.
I returned to Westminster and on Monday evening attended a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I listened to MPs pleading with Jeremy Corbyn to resign for the sake of uniting the Labour Party. I have always supported the Leader of the Labour Party and I believe in collective responsibility.
I also believe in loyalty, have respect for the views of my local members and always put the Labour Party first.
Despite this, I have found myself increasingly isolated, and my position became evermore unfeasible, as members of the Shadow Justice Team resigned.
The result of the motion of no confidence on Tuesday made it clear that Jeremy had lost the confidence of the PLP. We need a leader that can unite the PLP and the Labour Party.
I have devoted my life to the Labour Party and the thought of the Party splitting was breaking my heart.
Following discussions with members of my CLP, I have tendered my resignation as Shadow Justice Minister, but I will continue to fight for my constituents from the back benches, and do all I can for the people of Neath, for Wales and for my Party.