- Tory Remainers branded ‘collaborators’ as they threatened to frustrate Brexit
- The rebel group said they were ready to inflict damaging defeats on Government
- Follows meetings with party whips and warned could put Corbyn in power
Tory Remainers were branded ‘collaborators’ last night as they threatened to side with Labour to frustrate Brexit in Parliament.
As the EU Withdrawal Bill began its detailed scrutiny in the Commons, the rebel group said they were ready to inflict a series of damaging defeats on the Government.
They served notice that they would join forces with Labour to oppose the Government on the detail of the legislation – including Theresa May’s bid to enshrine the Brexit date in law.
It came after almost 20 Tory rebel MPs held a ‘stormy’ meeting with party whips at which they refused to back down – despite warnings they risked bringing Jeremy Corbyn to power.
REBELS WHOSE CONSTITUENTS VOTED REMAIN
From left: Stephen Hammond, Wimbledon MP and Bob Neill, MP for Bromley
REBELS WHOSE CONSTITUENTS VOTED LEAVE
Anna Soubry: Broxtowe constituents mostly voted Leave
Labour also faced divisions, with former minister Frank Field being heckled by fellow Labour MPs as he warned they needed ‘educating’ on the level of support for leaving the EU among party supporters. But the scale of the revolt on the Tory benches creates the real risk of Government defeats in the coming weeks.
Veteran Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash accused his pro-Remain colleagues of ‘collaboration with Labour’ – and said voting with the opposition on Brexit would be ‘beyond the pale’.
Sir Bill, chairman of the European scrutiny committee, said Tory ‘dissidents’ were playing into the hands of those in the ‘unelected House of Lords’ who want to reverse the referendum result.
He warned they risked sparking a constitutional crisis which would ‘probably take us into the sphere of a general election and danger of a Corbynista government, which as good Conservatives, they must abhor’.
HAGUE AMD ODDS AT ODDS OVER BREXIT DIVORCE BILL
William Hague said Britain should offer to pay the EU if it wants to have the upper hand in negotiations and secure a good trade deal
Two former Tory leaders were at odds last night over whether the UK should give in to Brussels and cough up more money towards the Brexit divorce bill.
William Hague said Britain should offer to pay the EU if it wants to have the upper hand in negotiations and secure a good trade deal.
But Iain Duncan Smith said Theresa May should not increase her offer.
It came as the leader of the largest political party in the European Parliament warned that the EU was likely to refuse to start trade talks with Britain at a summit next month.
But Iain Duncan Smith said Theresa May should not increase her offer
Manfred Weber, an ally of Angela Merkel, said he would meet Mrs May in London today and tell her Britain must put concrete proposals on the table to bridge the impasse.
Lord Hague, a leading voice in the Remain campaign, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Is it worth making this offer in order to unlock a deal on a transitional period for leaving the EU and talks on a full free trade area to follow?
‘Those who want Brexit to be a success – whether or not they favoured it – should be clear that it is worth it.’ Asked about Lord Hague’s intervention, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘I couldn’t disagree with him more.’
The legislation cleared its first parliamentary hurdles last night, with MPs voting by 318 to 52 to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which enshrines the supremacy of EU law in this country.
But Downing Street is braced for a difficult few weeks ahead.
It came as:
- Brexit Secretary David Davis sought to ease business concern by saying agreement on a two-year transitional deal could be struck ‘very early next year’;
- Theresa May’s policy chief George Freeman faced criticism after warning that a bad Brexit deal could turn Britain into ‘an old people’s home’;
- Nicola Sturgeon warned Mrs May the Scottish parliament could refuse consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill;
- The European Parliament’s Guy Verhofstadt suggested a deadline to begin trade talks next month would be missed as there had been ‘no progress’ on divorce negotiations.
Labour yesterday confirmed it would try to vote down attempts to fix the date of Britain’s exit from the EU in law – raising doubts about whether the UK will leave.
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve, the leader of the Tory Remainers, described Brexit as an ‘extraordinary painful process of national self-mutilation’.
In a reference to the whips’ tactics, he said he would not be ‘ordered’ to back down. And he rounded on Sir Bill’s claim of ‘collaboration’, pointing out that Sir Bill had rebelled against John Major’s government during the debates on the Maastricht Treaty 25 years ago.
MIGRANTS: EURO JUDGES IN NEW INTERVENTION
EU migrants who decide to take British citizenship must still be allowed to bring spouses to the UK from outside Europe, a court ruled yesterday.
The European Court of Justice said the Home Office was wrong to use its strict system for deciding who is allowed residency when it comes to EU migrants living in Britain.
The ruling reignited an ongoing dispute in Brexit negotiations on the issue.
The case concerned Toufik Lounes, an illegal immigrant from Algeria who used a tourist visa to enter the UK in 2010, then overstayed. In 2014, he married Garcia Ormazabal, a Spaniard who studied in the UK before taking British citizenship.
When Mr Lounes applied for residency, the Home Office threw out his case on the grounds that Miss Ormazabal was no longer entitled to EU ‘family reunification’ rights as she was a British citizen.
But EU judges yesterday said Mr Lounes had every right to stay here. UK officials said they were urgently investigating the implications of the case.
ASTON MARTIN: WE MAY HALT PRODUCTION
Aston Martin has warned it may have to halt production of all its cars if the Prime Minister fails to secure a Brexit deal.
The luxury motor manufacturer – which makes all its cars in the UK – told MPs that leaving the EU without a trade deal in place would be ‘semi-catastrophic’.
Cars made in the UK have to be tested and approved by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), which allows them to be sold in the EU. But manufacturers have warned that unless the UK strikes a deal with Brussels, the VCA approval would no longer be valid.
Car makers would then have to stop production while they wait for approval from authorities in other markets.
Aston Martin’s finance chief Mark Wilson told Giving evidence to the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee: ‘We produce our cars exclusively in Britain. Without VCA-type approval it really is a stark picture for us.’
A hardcore of nine Tory MPs have signed 19 amendments to the Government’s legislation. But the number rises to at least 15 on some issues – meaning that even with the support of the DUP and Labour rebels, the Government’s majority could be in jeopardy.
Former business minister Anna Soubry confirmed that a group of 18 Tory rebels had had a bust-up with chief whip Julian Smith. She added: ‘It was stormy… the date going into the Bill has really upset a lot of really top-quality backbench Conservative MPs.’
But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said MPs had effectively approved the exit date when they voted to invoke the two-year Article 50 process in March this year.