Theresa May rejects calls to sack MPs over hard Brexit letter

Posted On: 
8th September 2017

Theresa May will not discipline members of the Government accused of backing a letter calling on her to implement a hard Brexit.

Theresa May will not discipline the MPs behind the hard Brexit letter.
PA Images

Suella Fernandes, a parliamentary aide to Chancellor Philip Hammond, is reported to have been the organiser of the letter, which called for Britain to quit the single market so that the UK is "well and truly out" of the EU on 30 March, 2019.

According to The Times, Brexit minister Steve Baker also left a message on a Tory MPs' WhatsApp group thanking those involved in signing the note.

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Friends of Mr Baker have insisted he only sent a "thank you" message to colleagues for supporting him at the despatch box during yesterday's Brexit department questions.

Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said the Tory Chief Whip and Number 10 "will have great interest" in the pair's behaviour.

She told Radio Four's Today programme: "In my experience it's much better that ministers and PPS's, because they are considered to be on the government payroll as well, are the ones who are explaining and setting out government policy, not seeking to challenge it publicly. 

Asked whether she thought the pair could be sacked, she replied: "I have no idea, I would never seek to second-guess what the Chief Whip or Number 10 would say."

But Number 10 have made clear that neither of the MPs will face disciplinary action.

Asked if Theresa May to speak to Mr Baker and Ms Fernandes, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "What the Prime Minister is doing is leading the Government and working hard to deliver the verdict of the British people."

The letter, which had been signed by around 40 Brexit-backing Tory MPs, said: "Continued membership of the single market, even as part of a transitional arrangement, would quite simply mean EU membership by another name, and we cannot allow our country to be kept in the EU by stealth.

"The Government must respect the will of the British people and that means leaving the single market at the same time as we leave the EU."

Responding to the story, Mrs May said: "What we are working for in our negotiations in Europe is to ensure that we get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom, and that we’re able to have a smooth and orderly process of putting that agreement into place which requires some period of implementation.

"In order to have that smooth and orderly period, we also need to have a smooth and orderly exit from the European Union, and that’s what the Bill that is before Parliament provides."