I have received several emails in recent days from residents asking about the Brexit process and my own position.
Firstly, let me assure anyone who voted Leave and is concerned that I might try to somehow 'block' Brexit - I fully accept and respect the result of the referendum and the fact that the majority of voters here in Heywood and Middleton voted Leave.
That is why last March I voted to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of leaving the European Union.
It is now my job to make sure that we get the best possible deal to replace the current arrangements.
I am aware that some people who oppose Labour or myself and simply want to cause mischief have tried to use the recent votes regarding the EU Withdrawal Bill to spread confusion, so let me be clear about what that Bill represents and why I voted against it: the Bill is not about whether or not we leave, but HOW.
The Bill, as written by the government, hands huge power to the Prime Minister and her Ministers to change the law without proper scrutiny, and it puts at risk many things we all take for granted and do not want to lose such as our rights at work. We are absolutely leaving the EU but I couldn't vote for the government's proposals to leave in such a way.
Despite the concerns of myself and others, the EU Withdrawal Bill was passed by a majority of MPs, and so has progressed to the next legislative stage which is debate in the House of Lords.
In Brussels, negotiations with the EU are ongoing and I am regularly contacted by residents (both pro- and anti-Brexit) who are concerned about the knowledge, skills and preparedness of those negotiating on our behalf. I share their worry, and I find it hard to be confident about the deal this government might be able to reach.
As your Member of Parliament, it is my duty to scrutinise and examine decisions and policies which will impact jobs, growth and prospects here in Heywood and Middleton.
I understand the urge of some Leave voters to simply leave and get on with it, but Brexit is anything but simple. British trade, our economy, national security, travel and millions of jobs are too closely linked with our EU partners for us to just cut ties and walk away without agreeing new arrangements to protect our own interests.
Also, while I fully accept that 60% of my constituents voted to leave, it is my job to represent the views of all my constituents to the best of my ability, and that of course includes the 40% who voted to remain. It’s for this reason that while I accept the views of the majority, I’m working to get the best deal for everyone, however they voted.
I will not simply wave through decisions made by the government regardless of their impact, whether they are related to Brexit or anything else – I would be letting down every single resident if I did that.
And just because I am scrutinising the government does not mean I am trying to stop Brexit.
I’m simply doing all I can to make sure that in the process of leaving the EU we protect jobs, the economy and workers’ rights. I’ll keep fighting for that as I don’t believe that anyone voted to leave the EU to make themselves poorer.