The Brexit debates: Claire Perry votes for a Labour amendment & decries jihadi-like supporters of a hard Brexit
On Tuesday evening (February 7) Claire Perry MP voted against the government in one of the votes on the Opposition's amendments to the 'Brexit Bill'. She was joined by two other recent former Tory ministers - Anna Soubry and Bob Neill - and by Ken Clarke.
In all seven Conservatives rebelled and voted for the Labour amendment. Some other Conservative MPs abstained.
The amendment was in the form of New Clause 110 [see below] giving MPs and peers the right to approve any Brexit deal.
The Tory rebellion was somewhat negated by the six pro-Brexit Labour MPs who voted with the government. The amendment was defeated by 326 votes to 293 - a majority of 33.
During the debate - on the second of three days the Bill has been considered 'in committee' - Mrs Perry intervened to point out that without this amendment the European Parliament was being given more power over any deal than the British Parliament. In this intervention she made it clear that 'we respect' the wishes of those who voted to leave the EU.
Later the debate had taken a somewhat more dramatic turn - with speeches and interventions from many Tory Eurosceptics.
In her main contribution to the debate Mrs Perry returned to the position of the European Parliament: "If we look at the negotiation for exit, it is bizarre that while the European Parliament has a number of go/no-go decision points where it effectively has a right of veto, we have been scared to give the same to this Parliament."
"That does not sit well with me as somebody who wants to stand up for this sovereign Parliament; it is a very perverse thing, and I am glad we are trying to correct it."
She added: "On the issues of scrutiny, representation and parliamentary sovereignty, I am very interested in the proposals made by the Opposition."
She spoke against having a second referendum on the final deal - as the LibDems are demanding. She was firm that MPs are in Parliament to represent their constituents, but was insistent that Westminster MPs should have more of a voice. No, then, to a referendum on the deal: "However, we are the next best thing: we are the opportunity to bring up what our constituents are saying, and many of them still have lots of questions about what this process looks like."
Mrs Perry then turned to the tone of the Brexit debates: "I have to say that the tone of these debates—we have heard a little of this today, although things are starting to calm down—sometimes borders on the hysterical."
"I feel sometimes that I am sitting with colleagues who are like jihadis in their support for a hard Brexit. No Brexit is hard enough—“Begone you evil Europeans. We never want you to darken our doors again!”[Interruption.] People say, “Steady on, Claire,” but I am afraid I heard speeches last week making exactly that point."
"The point is that the more we get these things out in the open, the more we will not be led by some of the more hysterical tabloid newspapers out there, but actually have an open and frank conversation with each other about what we want to do better."
"New Clause 110
Future relationship with the European Union
(1) Following the exercise of the power in section 1, any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union must not be concluded unless the proposed terms have been subject to approval by resolution of each House of Parliament.
(2) In the case of any new Treaty or relationship with the European Union, the proposed terms must be approved by resolution of each House of Parliament before they are agreed with the European Commission, with a view to their approval by the European Parliament or the European Council.”—(Chris Leslie.)
This new clause seeks to ensure that Parliament must give approval to any new deal or Treaty following the negotiations in respect of the triggering of Article 50(2), and that any new Treaty or relationship must be approved by Parliament in advance of final agreement with the European Commission, European Parliament or European Council."