The government is playing the “ultimate game of brinkmanship” over Brexit, a Tory backbencher has warned.
Former business minister Anna Soubry branded the delay to Parliament’s meaningful vote on the prime minister’s Brexit deal “deeply irresponsible”.
Her comments were echoed by fellow Tory Justine Greening, who said she would be “happy to sit through Christmas and into the new year if it meant we could find a direction on Brexit”.
Speaking during the Commons emergency debate on the EU Withdrawal Agreement, Soubry, the MP for Broxtowe, said: “It is the case that the government has made a grave error in taking this matter away from Parliament, delaying it for what will be at least a month and then bringing it back to the inevitable conclusion that would have existed had the vote occurred… I’m afraid to have to say this, I think the government is playing the ultimate game – and it’s deeply irresponsible – of brinkmanship.”
Soubry said there was no mandate in the country for a hard Brexit.
If the UK left the EU without a People’s Vote “and it turns out that the people of this country actually, if they’d been given that vote would have voted to remain in the EU, if that turns out to be the case they will never forgive us”, she added.
Tory Dominic Grieve QC (Beaconsfield) said: “It’s rather extraordinary that at a time when we say we wish to reflect what’s sometimes described as the will of the people we seem intent on dragging the country out of the EU on the basis of an agreement that appears to be largely rejected by the electorate themselves as flawed.”
Tory former cabinet minister Greening (Putney) warned of a “sense of drift”.
She said: “People just have a sense of drift in Parliament at the very moment when they want decisions taken that can help get our country back on track as the clock ticks down towards Brexit.”
Issues people faced in day to day life she said were “going missed by this chamber”, adding there was “no excuse” for any further delay on solving the Brexit issue.
She said: “We have spent two-and-a-half years going round in circles and we cannot simply go nowhere, we have to now take some decisions about going somewhere.”
She added: “MPs in this place would be happy to delay recess, frankly I’d be happy to sit through Christmas and into the new year if it meant we could find a direction on Brexit for businesses and people who want certainty about where this country is going.
“People simply won’t understand why this place is packing up and having a two week holiday when we face the biggest constitutional crisis that this country has had in decades, it is simply wrong, the government has to recognise this.”