Liam Fox warns MPs could try to ‘steal Brexit’ following key Commons vote

Posted On: 
5th December 2018

Liam Fox has warned that MPs could try to “steal Brexit from the British people” after they voted to effectively hand Parliament control of the process should Theresa May's deal be voted down.

Liam Fox
Parliament TV

The International Trade Secretary’s comments come after last night’s second crushing Commons defeat for ministers – to allow Government motions under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Bills to be altered.

MPs voted by 321 to 299 in favour of former Tory minister Dominic Grieve’s amendment, which came an hour after a separate vote which ruled ministers had held parliament in contempt, forcing them to reveal the legal advice it had received on Brexit.

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But Mr Fox warned Brexit supporters that last night’s rebel motion marked a boost for those hoping to halt the process of leaving the EU altogether.

“I think there is a real danger, that the House of Commons which has a Remain majority, may attempt to steal Brexit from the British people, which I think would be a democratic affront,” he told the International Trade Committee.

The frontbencher, who backed Britain leaving the EU before the referendum, also called on MPs to support the Prime Minister’s deal or risk the chance of Brexit not being completed.

Mr Fox added that all sides would want to avoid the “extremely unacceptable” backstop, but said signing up to it was a “calculated risk” given the “worst possible outcome” would be not to leave the bloc.

The solution under Mrs May’s deal would keep the UK tied to some customs union and single market rules if no alternative on how to keep the Irish border has been agreed by the end of the transition phase in December 2021.

“I also think that having talked to colleagues across Europe, their dislike for the concept of the backstop is stronger even than I had anticipated and therefore I think there is a double incentive on both sides to never get there,” the minister added.

“I think it is a calculated risk, because my assessment is that the worst possible outcome would be not to leave the European Union both in terms of the future of the United Kingdom, but also of the faith in our political system.

“I think all parties will want to avoid it, it is potentially extremely unacceptable to all sides.”