Why I voted against triggering Article 50

After Wednesday's vote it now seems inevitable that the government will pass its Bill to trigger Article 50, which will allow them to commence negotiations on leaving the EU.
 
There has been a lot of talk in recent days about the role of Parliament and how MPs should vote – whether we're there to represent the views of our constituents, or whether we ought to take decisions based on our own conscience and judgment.
 
The Borders voted to Remain, but I opposed Article 50 for a number of reasons. Foremost among them was my conviction that my main role as an MP is to hold the government to account.
 
With over half a year to prepare for the triggering of Article 50, the government's failure to build a coherent strategy on Brexit is a major dereliction of duty.
 
I have been totally dismayed by the government's approach. Rather than seeking to build consensus, it has lurched far to the right. It has placed the internal politics of the Conservative Party ahead of the national interest.
 
The risks associated with this headlong approach cannot be overstated. To move forward without a clear plan, or any attempt to build consensus is an appalling abdication of responsibility.
 
If I had voted for Article 50 and backed a government so patently unprepared for the challenges to come, how would I face local food and drink exporters, faced with the prospect of crippling tariffs to trade into the single market? What would I say to the specialist manufacturing companies in our region, desperate to know what regulatory environment they'll have to operate in? How would I justify it to fish processers contemplating being cut off from the world’s largest seafood market?
 
Then there's my constituents who are EU nationals, denied a vote in the referendum and now facing years of uncertainty. We have a government so lost in its own rhetoric that it refuses to do the decent thing and guarantee their existing right to live and work here.
 
This was not about seeking to thwart the will of the people of England and Wales and my party accepts the UK is going to leave the EU.  But the process here is absolutely central to my decision to vote against Article 50.
 
Since the vote last year, the government's approach to Brexit has been highly partisan, cementing the divide between Remain and Leave. But there has also been insufficient planning, insufficient thinking and a cavalier attitude, particularly when it comes to Scotland, which has been told time and time again to know its place.   
 
The vote to trigger Article 50 was historic. That's beyond doubt. But I think it will come to be seen as an act of historic folly. We were asked to launch a process with no idea of what the outcome would be, that Scotland emphatically voted against. 
 
Not in my name.