Liam Fox warns Remainer MPs may try to STEAL BREXIT from the British people in an ‘affront’ to democracy
- Liam Fox warned Remainer MPs will step up their bid to stop Brexit happening
- He defended PM’s deal after she suffered humiliating triple Commons defeat
- Tory rebels passed amendment to let MPs instruct PM if her Brexit deal rejected
- MPs also found Government in contempt of Parliament for first time in history
Liam Fox today warned that Remainer MPs may try to ‘steal Brexit’ from the British people in an affront to democracy.
The Brexit-backing Cabinet minister warned that the Commons might try to do everything they can to stop the UK crashing out without a deal.
The International Trade Secretary scrambled to try to defended Theresa May’s deal after she suffered a triple humiliating defeat in the Commons last night.
Tory rebels voted to hand the Commons the power to tell ministers what to do if the PM’s deal is rejected next Tuesday – effectively taking no deal off the table.
And MPs voted to hold the Government in contempt of Parliament in the first time in modern history.
Dr Fox tried to come out fighting as he appeared before the trade select committee today – warning Eurosceptics that after last night’s blows Remainer MPs will step up their bid to block Brexit altogether.
He said: ‘I think there is a real danger, given the House of Commons which has a Remain majority, may attempt to steal Brexit from the British people, which I think would be a democratic affront.’
Liam Fox (pictured in the Commons today) warned that Remainer MPs may try to ‘steal Brexit’ from the British people in an affront to democracy
The International Trade Secretary LIam Fox (pictured being grilled by MPs today) scrambled to try to defended Theresa May’s deal after she suffered a triple humiliating defeat in the Commons last night
His appearance comes as just hours after Mrs May suffered a dramatic triple defeat in a torrid 63 minutes in the Commons.
Amid extraordinary scenes, 26 Tory rebels sided with Labour to push through an amendment that would let MPs step in if her deal is defeated next week.
Pushed by Tory Remainer ringleader Dominic Grieve, the amendment gives the Commons the power to stop a no deal, go for a Norway-style deal, and back a second referendum.
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Dr Fox said leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘suboptimal’ but he added: ‘I do wonder, following the passing of the amendment last night, if the House of Commons has any intention of allowing a no deal to happen.’
Challenged over how a no Brexit could happen, Dr Fox said that MPs could table amendments to looming pieces of legislation which could block Britain’s departure – despite the historic referendum.
He faced a tough grilling from MPs, who mockingly asked if he thinks the Brexit deal is going well given last night’s humiliating Commons defeats.
Tory MP Nigel Evans said: ‘I have more chance of winning BBC Bake off than the PM has that she is going to win this vote next week.’
63 minutes of mayhem: how May was defeated three times in an hour
Theresa May suffered the worst day of any Prime Minister in 40 years in the Commons yesterday as MPs inflicted three defeats on her in barely more than an hour.
This is how it unfolded:
4.41pm: The first vote is announced on the Government’s amendment to the contempt motion, attempting to kick it into the long grass. Government loses 311 to 307.
4.58pm: The main Labour motion declaring the Government to be in contempt of Parliament is announced. Government loses 311 to 293.
5.44pm: Dominic Grieve’s amendment on what happens after the deal is rejected is announced. Government loses 321 to 299.
5.48pm: Theresa May stands up to make the case for her deal at the Despatch Box.
But Dr Fox, an ardent Brexiteer and one of the faces of the Vote Leave campaign, said: ‘My view, frankly, is that if you are in prison and someone offers you the key you take it….’
Defending the PM’s deal, he said: ‘I think there is a deal on the table that is acceptable. I think it will get us out of the European Union on 29 March, I think it fulfills what we were instructed to do by the British people.
‘It is not a perfect deal from my point of view or from either the EU’s but I think the bigger danger here is the political one of not leaving the European Union.’
Dr Fox said the ‘worst possible outcome’ would be not to leave the EU as it would shake the confidence voters have in their politicians.
He said that his belief in Brexit has hardened since the 2016 vote, saying ‘I think it is twice as right now’.
Dr Fox said he understood the reservations about the controversial Irish backstop – but insisted there was not way to avoid it.
He said: ‘The backstop is a calculated risk…but without the backstop we will not have been able to get the Irish government to take part in negotiations.’
Tory Brexiteer Marcus Fysh – who has sent a no confidence letter in the PM in – blasted the backstop plan.
He said: ‘Is the calculated risk a bit like putting five rounds in a revolver and playing Russian roulette with it? It is utterly stupid.’
But Dr Fox hit back, insisting that many in the EU think the deal gives the UK ‘an unacceptable advantage’ and therefore Brussels will be as reluctant to fall into the Plan B as the UK is.
He was repeatedly quizzed about what the Government’s Plan B is if – as widely expected – the PM’s deal is voted down at next Tuesday’s crunch vote.
Theresa May’s (pictured outside No10 yesterday) Brexit deal and premiership is hanging by a thread after last night’s defeats
But he refused to divulge any details – saying simply that he is focused on getting the deal done and will not discuss ‘hypotheticals’.
The Cabinet minister said he is optimistic that Britain will be able to roll over the trade deals which it has with third countries via the EU – such as Switzerland – if there is a no deal Brexit.
In a torrid night in the Commons, the PM also suffered a humiliating defeat over her bid to keep the Government’s legal advice on the EU withdrawal agreement under wraps.
Her administration became the first in modern history to be found in contempt of Parliament.
Ministers have caved to pressure and will today publish the legal advice after losing the vote.
Last night’s triple defeat dealt Mrs May’s Brexit plan a humiliating blow and left her premiership hanging by a thread.
Commons leader Andrea Leadsom today warned that MPs would live to ‘regret’ their decision to overturn centuries of convention and make the Government publish legal advice.
She said: ‘I think any parliamentarian who wants at some point in the future to be in Government is going to live to regret their vote last night.’
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