A Tory Eurosceptic MP has announced he will back Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement – two weeks after he was appointed to the Privy Council.
Sir Edward Leigh, the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said in a statement he now believed it was was “the only way to deliver Brexit”.
He said: “I will support the government on Tuesday in the meaningful vote. I think it is now inconceivable that this Parliament, and this Speaker, will allow the UK to leave on WTO (World Trade Organisation) terms on 29 March.
“Therefore my message to my fellow Brexit-supporting MPs is you are playing with fire if you vote down this deal in the hope of something better, and the only way to deliver Brexit is to vote for the deal this week.”
He was originally an outspoken critic of Ms May’s deal and his switch was immediately criticised by Brexit campaigners, with LeaveEU describing him as “spineless”.
SNP MP Peter Grant was one of many to remark on the “coincidence” of Sir Edward’s appointment to the Privy Council and his change of mind.
Three other Tory MPs have also confirmed they would be supporting the prime minister’s plan in the meaningful vote on Tuesday.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said that while he had “deep misgivings” about many aspects of the deal, it would, he believed, provide a “framework” to ensure the UK leaves the EU on 29 March.
The Cotswolds MP said: “While I retain deep misgivings about many aspects of the deal, in particular the open-ended nature of the backstop, the events of last week have clearly demonstrated that the speaker and MPs who wish to remain in the EU will stop at nothing to prevent that happening.
“Whilst the deal is far from ideal it will create a smooth transition for business and jobs.
“Above all it will provide a framework to ensure that we actually leave on the 29 March this year.”
Former minister Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, said he also had reservations, but had decided to back the deal.
“After last week’s operation by the speaker and Remainers to reverse Brexit and the prospect of more tricks to come, I’ve decided I have to back the withdrawal agreement so that we deliver on the referendum as promised.
“I’m still concerned about the EU’s unnecessary, politically inspired, Northern Ireland backstop. It must be ditched or time-limited if Brussels and Dublin are sincere about their future relationship with the UK.”
Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, Caroline Johnson, said: “As a Brexiteer I am unhappy with some aspects of the deal and had intended to vote against it.
“However I have come to realise that the prime minister is trying to deliver Brexit via a Remain parliament, some of whom seem ready to go to any length to frustrate the referendum result and stop Brexit.
“We need to get this part of the process over the line so that we are out of the EU and parliament can then refocus its efforts on the negotiations for our future relationship to ensure we seize the full benefits of Brexit.”
The prime minister is still facing a historic defeat on her Brexit deal on Tuesday, with some estimates suggesting she could lose by up to 200 votes.
Additional reporting by PA
Credit: Source link