From 31 January to 1 February 2017, MPs debated the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill on whether to trigger Brexit – the Article 50 notice.
MPs overwhelmingly backed the bill, supported by the Labour leadership under Jeremy Corbyn, by 498 votes FOR, to 114 AGAINST.
Ken Clarke was one of the 114 MPs. He was the ONLY Tory MP to vote against triggering Brexit.
He felt that remaining in the EU was in the country’s best interests, and as an MP, he considered it was his duty to vote accordingly, and to defy his party’s 3-line whip.
He had never felt beholden to the referendum result and in his brilliant speech, delivered with hardly a glance at his notes, he lucidly and persuasively explained why.
Ken Clarke, former Chancellor and leadership contender, is a traditional Tory who – unlike contemporary Conservatives – strongly backed Britain being a member of the European Community.
For over 50 years, he said, his party – the Conservatives – was in favour of the European Union. That suddenly changed, however, on 23 June 2016 with the referendum vote.
But he had not changed in his conviction.
“I personally shall be voting with my conscience content in this vote.
“And when we see what unfolds hereafter as we leave the European Union, I hope the consciences of other Members of Parliament remain equally content.”
How could any MP who voted for Brexit remain content today, witnessing the enormous damage that is now unfolding as a result?
Ken Clarke is a pro-EU hero. He put his country above his party. For hundreds of years into the future, he will be judged as being on the right side of history.
- Watch 10-minute video, ‘The Anti-Brexit Hero’: