EXCL Nicky Morgan: I am a freedom fighter over Brexit

Posted On: 
30th November 2017

Nicky Morgan has claimed she is a “freedom fighter” defending parliament as the Government tries to force Brexit through the Commons.

“One person’s rebel is another person’s freedom fighter, isn’t it?" Nicky Morgan said
Credit: 
PA Images

The former Education Secretary - who was one of the Tory MPs dubbed “mutineers” by the Daily Telegraph - said ministers’ tactics were putting “extraordinary strain” on Britain’s unwritten constitution.

She also compared her struggle to MPs in the 17th century as they stood up for the rights of parliament during the English civil war.

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Ms Morgan - a prominent Remain campaigner during the EU referendum - made her comments in a wide-ranging interview in The House magazine.

She said it was vital that backbenchers pushed back against any attempts by the Government to railroad its Brexit legislation through the Commons.

She said: “I find [myself] having to remind constituents that actually, we do have a system of representative democracy, we’re not delegates, going back to what Edmund Burke said all those years ago, but of course, if you have a vote where people have had a direct say, that puts that representative element under significant strain.”

Asked how it felt to be viewed as a rebel, having previously served in Cabinet, she said: “One person’s rebel is another person’s freedom fighter, isn’t it? Inevitably, the role of being a backbench Member of Parliament is completely different from being a minister bound by collective responsibility

“When you are no longer in that ministerial position, of course you are free to say what you think about things, which has its moments of danger, but also has its moments where you actually have to make the most of it.

“With Brexit, and I think the extraordinary strain it’s put on our constitution and our representative democracy, I do sometimes feel like I’m in the middle of the 17th Century, when you are standing up for the rights of parliament.

“Anybody who is a backbench Member of Parliament should be doing that at the moment. Democracy is a precious thing and the rights of parliament are a precious thing.

“It would be too easy just to cede them and then 10, 20, 30 years down the line, to really regret and think ‘why didn’t we fight a bit harder’, when the next big crisis comes along.”

Ms Morgan was one of 15 Conservative MPs accused by the Telegraph of plotting to defeat the Government’s bid to enshrine the Brexit date of 30 March, 2019, in law. She now has a copy of the front page on her office wall.

“It’s quite a thing to have 15 Conservative MPs named on the front page of what’s traditionally been a Conservative-supporting newspaper, who are effectively being told that by doing your job as a Member of Parliament in scrutinising what is the most important bill to go through parliament for many, many years, that actually somehow you are being a mutineer,” she said.

“So, yeah, it’s something to remind us of the extraordinary times that we live in.”

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Elsewhere in the interview, Ms Morgan - who chairs the Treasury Select Committee - called for Mark Carney’s replacement as Bank of England governor to be a woman.

“I think it would be fantastic,” she said. “In the same way that I think having female prime ministers is really important, and women in the Cabinet. It would be great to see a female governor of the Bank of England.”