Diane Abbott’s constituents on Brexit: ‘Not voting was a cop-out...she needs to voice her opinion on Article 50’

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott - Credit: Archant

Pressure is mounting on Diane Abbott to follow the will of her constituents this evening and vote against Brexit – defying a three-line whip from the Labour Party.

Albert Atiase

Albert Atiase - Credit: Archant

MPs are due to vote on giving Theresa May the power to trigger the start of Britain’s “divorce talks” as the Brexit bill enters its final stages in the House of Commons, leaving Ms Abbott – whose Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency voted 78 per cent to remain – in a difficult position.

The Gazette took to the streets of Stoke Newington last night to gauge public opinion.

Albert Atiase, a worker in a west Indian restaurant, said it was a “cop-out” Ms Abbott had failed to vote last week.

He said: “She likes to make herself out as an MP of the people and that she’s in touch with the grassroots, but in my knowledge of people who she has had dealings with her she’s not.” Phil Couch, 38, from Brook Road said it was “weird” she failed to vote last week,

Matt Fried

Matt Fried - Credit: Archant

“It’s a bit rubbish,” he said. “She’s obviously got another agenda, because she could have not gone home and got the Leader of the House to vote as long as she’s on the premises. It’s a bit gutless she decided to bum out of it like that.”

Ann Simpson from Stoke Newington just wants Diane to “be more upfront”. “If she has any reservations about Jeremy Corbyn’s stance I would like her to make it clear, because I have every sympathy with that,” she said.

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“I would have liked to have seen Corbyn having a much better go at persuading people to remain because I think it’s much more favourable to remain in the EU for trade in a global society.”

Julie Kempston, 45, agrees Ms Abbott “needs to voice her opinion”. “Diane Abbott lives in a multicultural borough,” she said, “and I think whether you have a headache or not you’ve just got to do it. That’s your job.”

Phil Couch

Phil Couch - Credit: Archant

Matt Fried, from Flats and Houses lettings agency in Stoke Newington Road, was the only Brexit supporter the Gazette came across. He wants Ms Abbott to toe the party line.

He said: “I would for sure support a Brexit move and if Diane Abbott is going towards Brexit then I think that should be the case. The country has voted Brexit and she should follow suit.”

An online poll by the Gazette showed 71 per cent of 160 voters thought Ms Abbott should vote against triggering Article 50.

Meanwhile Charlie Barker, who goes under the name Charlie Bones for his breakfast DJ slot on Dalston’s NTS Radio, told the Gazette he had just “tuned out of all world news”.

DJ Charlie Bones

DJ Charlie Bones - Credit: Archant

“Brexit wasn’t even a legally binding vote so why are they dragging us that way if they don’t have to follow it?” he said.

“It’s irrelevant because multinationals run the deal now.”

He added: “Even to the people involved it doesn’t make sense. You can’t talk about politics anymore because it just depresses people.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has imposed a three-line whip requiring his MPs to support the legislation to enable the government to trigger Article 50.

Ms Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, did not take part in last week’s vote on whether to trigger Article 50.

The Shadow Home Secretary left Parliament at 5pm, two hours before the historic vote, reportedly due to a migraine.

Her fellow Hackney MP Meg Hillier voted against triggering Article 50 “because of Hackney’s overwhelming anti-Brexit stance”.

The Hackney South and Shoreditch MP joined 46 Labour colleagues in rebelling against the three-line whip.

The Government expects to win the crunch vote passing the Bill at about 8pm this evening.

Ms Abbott’s office has still not responded to a request for comment from the Gazette over how she would have voted had she not been too ill to do so.