AS a resident of Leigh I read with some curiosity the recent open letter circulated on social media by the Wigan Conservative Federation in relation to what it perceives to be the failings of MP Jo Platt in declining to vote with the Government on the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, ostensibly against the wishes of her constituents, who by and large voted to leave the EU.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I am a member of the Leigh Constituency Labour Party and voted to remain in the EU at last year’s referendum.

While this places me at odds with the general political position of the Wigan Conservative Federation, it does not preclude me from highlighting what I see to be its flawed, and somewhat disingenuous, submissions with regards to Miss Platt.

The author of the letter states that Miss Platt voted to scrap the process of leaving the EU.

He also states this was a vote against the existence of the bill itself.

I believe such assertions are misleading as they fail to take into account the context in which Miss Platt cast her vote and her reasoning for doing so.

Firstly, had Miss Platt been a Member of Parliament at the time of the vote to trigger Article 50 and voted against it then it could be said that there had been a vote against both leaving the EU against the wishes of constituents and any consideration of legislation which pursues the same.

Miss Platt was of course not an MP at this point, did not vote against Article 50 and in fact campaigned at the General Election on the basis that Brexit was happening.

She did not therefore vote against the bill’s existence – this vote was about how the bill sought to achieve its aims.

This is the context in which Miss Platt’s vote on the bill needs to be viewed.

The question on the floor of the House of Commons was not whether there should be legislation to leave the EU but how this legislation should operate to ensure that current EU legislation is incorporated into UK law when Brexit is effected in March 2019.

Miss Platt was elected to represent Leigh with more than 26,000 votes and a near 10,000 majority on the basis that she would campaign to seek the best possible Brexit for her constituents and to hold any Conservative Government to account.

Her vote sought to do both.

Ben Martin

Member of the Labour Party’s Leigh constituency