Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has defended her recent vote against a Commons motion which came after she had pledged support for the local women’s pensions campaign group.
Mrs Trevelyan was present in Wooler when the constituency WASPI group held its launch event and said ‘I will do all I can to support them’.
But campaigners were disappointed when she sided with the Government and voted against a Labour motion to introduce transitional arrangements for the women affected towards the end of last month. Writing to the group, Mrs Trevelyan said: ‘I am a Conservative MP, which means I am in the fortunate position of being able to speak to ministers and they are more likely to listen to me. That is where I feel I have the most influence, by talking and persuading them to understand my point of you, or in this case, the arguments so many of you are raising with me.
‘If I vote for a highly-political Labour Party motion which will not affect change, I am likely to lose that ability to raise your concerns directly with ministers.
‘Not only did I not agree with the wording of the motion, but by simply angering ministers I would be doing you a disservice, as I would be making them less likely to listen to what I have to say. I hope that explains why I did not vote for the motion.
‘I understand how that looked to some of you, but my primary concern is ensuring ministers get to hear from people who are affected, and that can only happen if I am able to sit down and talk to them.
‘On that note, I am pleased to report that Shailesh Vara, the minister involved, has agreed to meet me, to talk about how we can ensure women are not left suffering financial hardship as a result of the changes.
‘I do not want to raise your hopes about what this will achieve. The Government will not reverse the changes. As the minister explained last week, that would cost £77billion by 2020/21.
‘I hope we can work towards a mechanism to ensure that the most financially-vulnerable women are not facing hardship as a result of the changes.
‘In many ways, it would have been the easier thing to vote with the Labour motion on Wednesday. I knew voting against it would possibly cause some confusion, but my priority is getting ministers to listen, and I will always stand up for my principles and the interests of my constituents will always be a higher priority than how I come across. I make no apologies for that.’