Cabinet minister Liam Fox warns MPs they won't be re-elected if they allow no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
1st February 2019

MPs may not get re-elected if they let a no-deal Brexit go ahead, a leading Cabinet Brexiteer has warned.

The International Trade Secretary also gave a fresh hint that the Government could delay Britain's planned EU departure date.
Credit: 
PA

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said politicians would have "little cover when they next face the voters" if they do not swing behind Theresa May's Brexit deal and avoid leaving without an agreement.

The senior minister also dropped a fresh hint that the Government could be open to delaying the UK's departure date in order to make time for vital legislation to make it through the Commons.

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Those comments come just a day after Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also acknowledged that the UK may not leave the EU on 29 March as planned.

Speaking to reporters after a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank, Mr Fox said: "I listen to members of parliament complaining about the potential effects of no-deal while voting against the deal itself.

"I think they have to ask themselves whose interests they actually represent - because ultimately they will have to answer to their voters for their own decisions.

"Those who block the deal and then complain about no-deal I think will have little cover when they next face the voters."

'HUGE DIFFERENCE'

In the latest sign that the Cabinet is keeping open the option of of a delay to Brexit, the International Trade Secretary meanwhile said: "There would be a huge difference between an extension to Article 50 because we hadn’t reached an agreement or a short delay because we had reached an agreement and needed the legislation to implement it."

But he added: "We can get our domestic legislation through if we quickly reach an agreement with the EU and that’s in everyone’s interest."

The comments come after the Tories' most senior backbencher said he would willing to countenance an extension to Article 50 if Mrs May managed to get her deal - which was roundly rejected in the House of Commons last month - over the line.

Speaking to the BBC's Political Thinking podcast, Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, said: "I would only countenance a delay if we already had a deal agreed, it's just a matter of doing the necessary work to implement it.

"Once we've reached an agreement and we know the terms on which we're leaving, if we decide that we need another two weeks in order to finish the necessary legislation through Parliament, I don't think anybody's going to be too worked up about that, because we will have made a decision."

MPs this week learned that the the scheduled Ferbuary parliamentary recess has been shelved to give the Commons more time to try and agree a deal.

Parliament was due to rise on 14 February until 25 February, but Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said the "unique" circumstances thrown up by the ongoing Brexit deadlock meant the traditional break, in which MPs head back to their constituencies, would be canned.