Theresa May calls on MPs to come together on Brexit
Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May today called on MPs from all sides of the political spectrum to “come together” to deliver Brexit.
As she faced the House of Commons for her weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, May also defended the right of her Conservative party MPs to express their disagreements over the crucial EU Withdrawal Bill, a key part of the UK government’s strategy for leaving the European Union following last year’s referendum in favour of Brexit.
“There is, of course, a lively debate going on in this place and that’s right and proper and that’s important,” she said.
In reference to the bill, which formally converts all EU legislation into UK law, currently undergoing a line by line scrutiny in the committee stage of the parliamentary process, she indicated being open to changes.
“What we are doing, as a government, is listening to the contributions that are being made. We are listening carefully to those who wish to improve the Bill,” May said.
“I hope we can all come together to deliver on the decision that the country took that we should leave the European Union,” she said.
Her comments came after rebel MPs from within the Conservative party made it clear that they have every intention to oppose Downing Street’s bid to enshrine in law the precise date of Brexit – March 29, 2019.
As many as 15 Tories have been identified as among the rebellious group that plans to vote with the Opposition Labour party and were characterised as the “Brexit mutineers” on a front-page story by ‘The Daily Telegraph’ today.
The front page itself became a subject of discussion in Parliament, when one of those named by the newspaper blamed it for triggering threatening tweets that have now been referred to police.
Anna Soubry, the Tory MP for Broxtowe and an outspoken critic of the EU Withdrawal Bill, asked Speaker John Bercow to “make it very clear to everybody, in whatever capacity, that they have an absolute duty to report responsibly and make sure they use language that brings our country together and makes sure that we have a democracy that welcomes free speech and an attitude of tolerance”.
Bercow said any such threats were “repugnant”, and “doomed to fail”.
Other MPs also piled on an attack against the newspaper’s stance, with Brexit minister Steve Baker describing it as “media attempts to divide our party” and Heidi Allen MP saying that “if fighting for the best possible future for our country and our government is considered mutiny – then bring it on”.
The government faces its first major bruising defeat over the bill by next week, when the group of rebel Tories could vote against May’s refusal to put the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law.
Passage of government legislation became a precarious task for May when her Conservative party lost its majority in the snap general election held in June this year.
The Tory majority in the Commons is dependent on the support of 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs, which would be lost if her own party MPs began voting against the government.
Meanwhile, the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill will continue through this week but a key vote on the Brexit date amendment is not expected until next month.