Tory MP made Privy Counsellor says he will support Brexit deal after all

Posted On: 
14th January 2019

A veteran Tory MP who was appointed a Privy Counsellor by Theresa May has announced he has changed his mind and will now support her Brexit deal.

Sir Edward Leigh is now backing the Brexit deal.
Credit: 
PA Images

Sir Edward Leigh had previously said he could not support the withdrawal agreement reached between the Prime Ministers and EU officials.

But after being appointed to the Privy Council, a group of senior MPs who act as advisers to the Queen and are given the title "Right Honourable", the Gainsborough MP revealed he had decided to back the deal when it is voted on in the Commons on Tuesday night.

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Sir Edward said his decision had been partly driven by the behaviour of Speaker John Bercow last week, when he overturned centuries of Parliamentary precedent to allow an amendment to a government business motion, piling more pressure on Mrs May on brexit.

He said: "I will support the Government on Tuesday in the meaningful vote. I think it is now inconceivable that this Parliament, and this Speaker, will allow the UK to leave on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms on 29 March.

“Therefore my message to my fellow Brexit-supporting MPs is you are playing with fire if you vote down this deal in the hope of something better, and the only way to deliver Brexit is to vote for the deal this week.”

Although the Prime Minister is still thought to be heading for an overwhelming defeat in Tuesday's vote, a total of four Tories who had previously said they would oppose her deal have now said they will back it.

The latest is Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who told the BBC's Westminster Hour last night that he still believed it is a "thoroughly bad deal", but that he feared Brexit may not happen if it is voted down.

He said: "I don’t like the backstop provisions in relation to Northern Ireland. I don’t like the provisions on not being able to leave on our own unilateral terms. I don’t like the defence provisions.  But in view of what happened in the House last week with the Speaker I just think that the possibility of no Brexit must be seriously considered.

"I’m a Brexiteer and I do want to see us leave on the 29 March. I’m fearful that a coalition in the House of Commons will somehow find a way of either extending Article 50 or, worse still, preventing us leaving altogether."