Liam Fox: MPs who try to block Brexit should not be in the Commons
Any MP who tries to block Brexit in parliament does not “deserve to have a place in the House of Commons,” Conservative leadership hopeful Liam Fox has declared.
Former defence secretary Mr Fox said voters could question their MPs’ right to the job if they refuse to accept the "freely expressed democratic will of the people” in voting to leave the bloc.
He laid down the gauntlet to colleagues at a campaign launch this morning where he made his case to succeed David Cameron in No 10.
Brexit campaigner Mr Fox also warned his rivals for the top job it would be “unthinkable” if they tried to deviate from the “instruction” they had been given by voters.
Law firm Mishcon de Reya, acting for a group of business people and academics, has today argued it would be unlawful for a Prime Minister to trigger Brexit without a vote in Parliament.
The suggestion contradicts Mr Cameron, who said implementing Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to begin the exit process would be down to his successor alone.
At a speech in London today, Mr Fox argued there was no need for a parliamentary vote, but sought to go “one stage further” in his assertions in case a vote were called.
“It would, in my view, be incumbent upon any democrat to accept the will of the British people,” he argued.
“And any Member of Parliament who turns round and says I ‘do not accept the freely expressed democratic will of the people of the UK’ I don’t think deserves to have a place in the House of Commons.
“Their voters should want to ask whether they have a right to represent them if that’s the opinion that they take.”
Following eurosceptic concern that a premier who campaigned for the Remain campaign would be incapable of negotiating Britain’s exit, Mr Fox said:
“The British public have made a decision, and whether you are for or against our exit from the European Union, in my view it is your democratic duty to carry that through.
“It is unthinkable that anybody who might want to be Prime Minister of our country would in any way deviate from what is a velar instruction from the voters.”
'FOREIGN AND TRADE DEPARTMENT'
Elsewhere, Mr Fox said he wanted to reinvigorate transatlantic trade as well as trade with commonwealth countries.
He called for the Foreign Office to become the ‘Foreign and Trade Department’ with two ministers to oversee its running.
And he reiterated his plan to trigger Article 50 before the end of this year so the UK can be out of the EU by 1 January 2019.
On other policy matters, Mr Fox said there should be no more “fiddling” with NHS structures and called for a renewed effort to build houses in areas of greatest need.
He also argued Chancellor George Osborne was using Brexit as an “excuse” for scrapping his target for a Budget surplus by 2020 - since it would have been impossible anyway.
Mr Fox is the trailing candidate in the leadership race. Only nine MPs have supported him, with no Cabinet ministers.
Frontrunner Theresa May has more than 100 MP backers, while Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove have at least 30 and Stephen Crabb more than 20.