Senior Tory accuses PM of treating MPs like dogs and not to be ‘surprised when they bite back’

Charles Walker issues a warning to Boris Johnson. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Charles Walker issues a warning to Boris Johnson. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

The chair of the 1922 backbench Tory committee has told the prime minister he will not be voting for his Brexit bill.

Addressing the House of Commons, Charles Walker initially used the opportunity to express his anger over the government's coronavirus restrictions.

'I am extremely concerned we are placing severe restrictions on people's liberties without any recourse to parliament,' he told MPs.

He said if it was 'in the national interest' he would vote for some of them, but felt it was right politician had a say first, rather than leaving powers with the executive.

Walker also said he was 'defending a Corbyn' for being able to 'protest without fear of arrest and being fined', in a reference to the former Labour leader's brother Piers Corbyn.

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The chair of the 1922 committee then diverted his anger towards Boris Johnson's Brexit bill - saying it was the wrong decision to put the country on the wrong side of the law.

'I do think being asked to put this country, members of this house and our constituents, on the wrong side of the law before we've exhausted all other options.

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'I'm no fan of the EU, I was in every single division lobby for Brexit, I think they're a pain in the neck.

'But surely we have to exhaust all other options before we press the nuclear button?

'And I'm not going to be voting for this bill. Because if you keep whacking a dog don't be surprised when it bites you back. We all are members of parliament, and we deserve to be taken seriously'.

He urged the prime minister to listen to the concerns of the House and 'comes back with a solution' that would allow him to back it.

In a rallying message to his Tory colleagues, he said: 'I do believe that the Conservative Party is the greatest political party ever, and we have to have the courage to live up to that greatness'.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove could be seen nodding from his frontbench seat as Walker spoke.

Twitter said it was another blockbuster speech after Ed Miliband's opening speech at the start of the debate.

'You thought Miliband was box office but were you up for Charles Walker?' tweeted journalist Jessica Elgot.

Another said: 'I turned on BBC Parliament just in time to see Charles Walker's speech and it wasn't the take I was expecting'.

Allie Renison tweeted: 'Charles Walker isn't actually a surprise. Track record of forthrightness across the board - first Tory MP to float the idea of an election when May was struggling to get the WA through last year'.

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