MY week started with an early home visit to a constituent in Wilton and then representations on Brexit from members of Salisbury for Europe, ably led by Canon Guy Wilkinson.
I listened very carefully to their arguments in support of the Lords’ amendments, which would have compelled the government to bring forward proposals within three months to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals living in the UK.
I too want to see the rights of EU citizens in the UK safeguarded in the process that lies ahead, but I concluded that it was not possible for me to support the amendments.
When the PM sought assurances on behalf of UK nationals living in the EU she was categorically told that there could be no agreement on their status until negotiations were underway.
It therefore strikes me as irresponsible to seek to bind the PM to a tight timetable with no reciprocal amendment in place for British nationals.
It is also important to remember that the residency rights of EU citizens in the UK could not be altered without Parliament passing separate legislation.
The Lords amendment on Parliamentary approval would equally have undermined the negotiation process, which I could not support.
The amendment as it stood would have incentivised EU negotiators to offer a poor deal in the hope of Parliament vetoing leaving.
My objective has to be to honour both the letter and the spirit of the referendum legislation, which clearly and specifically stated that the outcome would be respected and acted upon.
An unamended Bill gives the PM the strongest negotiating hand as we do so.
I am not naïve about the complexity of the negotiations ahead or the ups and downs that are likely to occur.
I will be taking a close interest in the details and do what I can to see that they honour the mutual interests of both those who voted to leave and to remain.
Parliament cannot override the legitimate result of the referendum.
However, I am confident that it will continue to play a significant role as negotiations begin.