A Tory MP and leading Brexiteer has been accused of “Stalinism” over comments attacking those who want any Brexit withdrawal agreement to be put to MPs.
Bernard Jenkin dismissed attempts to amend the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to require the government to put any withdrawal agreement to a vote in the House saying it was “nothing but cant”.
The MP for Harwich and North Essex’s comments were branded “Stalinism” by Labour former minister Yvette Cooper, and Tory former minister Anna Soubry described them as “shocking”.
The Maastricht Rebel said: “The whole point of this Bill is it is taking back power to this country and to this Parliament so we can decide for ourselves what will happen.
“All the significant powers in this Bill are subject to affirmative resolution and those that are not are now going to be subject to a sifting committee.
“We are recovering from a situation where as members of the European Union we had handed over all these decisions lock, stock and barrel to the European Union.
“To dress this attempt to reverse Brexit as an argument in favour of parliamentary sovereignty is nothing but cant.”
Ms Cooper said: “Oh my, what Stalinism is this? That somehow any attempt to disagree with the way in which this Bill is drawn up is somehow a betrayal of Brexit, what rubbish.
“How insecure are members who are objecting to any changes in this Bill?
“It is Parliament’s job and it is a job they argued for when they stood up and tried to defend parliamentary sovereignty.
“They argued for Parliament to take some responsibility and to do its job by scrutinising legislation.”
Ms Cooper also suggested that Brexit could be delayed by a couple of months after Mr Jenkin asked what happened if a Brexit deal was reached “too late” to allow Parliament to clear through any legislation required to approve it.
Ms Cooper said she wants a transitional agreement “pinned down as early as possible” to give certainty to business, adding: “I hugely hope there will be plenty of time for all of these debates to take place.
“In the event, and the government has said it doesn’t want this, against the government’s will, that this ends up being a late deal then actually Parliament should have the opportunity to say to the government ‘Well, ask to extend Article 50 for a couple of months’ in order to be able to implement it properly.
“To be honest, the government will have to do that anyway because they will not be able to bring Clause 9 amendment and Clause 9 powers through fast enough in order to be able to do so.”
Conservative Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) later voiced concerns that Brexit could be delayed by more than two months.
The Brexiteer said: “If the treaty isn’t right in the eyes of this Parliament then a couple of months could turn into a couple of years, and indeed in some cases people would like it to be a couple of decades.”