Statement on Brexit vote absence and proxy voting during paternity leave

As some people may know, my wife Krystle and I are expecting our first baby. While the due date was the 8th March the wee one was quite comfortable over the weekend and wasn't quite ready to meet us. 

Yesterday as there were no votes likely in the House of Commons I received permission to be absent which allowed me to stay at home in Moray in case the baby came on Monday. As there were no signs I travelled to Westminster first thing this morning ahead of the votes this week regarding Brexit.

Later this morning however Krystle started labour with her waters breaking before I reached the House of Commons.  

I’m very grateful that earlier this year Parliament agreed a trial period of proxy voting for those on maternity or paternity leave. From tomorrow my good friend, colleague and strong advocate for fathers' rights, Tracey Crouch MP, will be voting on my behalf however I am unable to start this process today. 

I sought the advice of colleagues, clerks and the Speaker but unfortunately to vote by proxy you must register the day before, something I was unable to do. This means that I am unable to vote on the motion on the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 tonight.  

I know some people will be disappointed that their MP could not vote in this historic debate but I hope people in Moray will understand that I have to be with my wife at this time as we enter this new phase of our lives. I am now travelling back to Moray. While I consider representing the people of Moray one of the highest honours available to me, supporting my wife and welcoming our first child into the World has to take priority for me.  

I am very grateful for all the support we are getting at this time and I look forward to returning to work after my paternity leave.