ONE of two Conservative MEPS who supported a motion at the European Parliament declaring that Britain had not made “sufficient progress” with the Brexit process to launch trade negotiations has said her vote was not aimed at blocking trade talks.

South West MEP Julie Girling and fellow Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth both supported the motion – a move which has drawn criticism for breaking rank on the party’s policy.

She said that the vote was not to block trade talks but to “drive more effective negotiations”.

“I did not vote to block trade talks,” she said. “Indeed, I sincerely hope that the vote focuses the minds of negotiators, and that the European Parliament will be in a position to help drive more effective negotiations.

“This is how I will continue to represent the South West and this is the only way I can foresee a collegiate conclusion.

"While I have always respected the democratic position of the British people, I have never agreed to silently acquiesce as our country heads towards a cliff edge, with no deal and a complete withdrawal.

“The people of the South-West elected me to represent their best interests, not to preside over wanton economic self-harm."

Julie Girling was joined by 556 other MEPs including fellow South West representative Molly Scott Cato (Green) in supporting the motion with 92 voting against and 29 abstentions.