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Newbury MP denies putting party loyalty before own beliefs

"I've never been afraid to vote against my own party" Richard Benyon tells his Brexit critics

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has hit back at claims that he puts party loyalty ahead of his own beliefs after voting in favour of a bill which will determine the date the UK leaves the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May asked for cross-party approval of a clause in the EU Withdrawal Bill that states the UK will exit the European Union on March 29, 2019, at 11pm London time.

Fifteen Conservatives voted against and were subsequently labelled ‘Brexit mutineers’ in a controversial article published on the front page of The Daily Telegraph last week – but Mr Benyon wasn’t one of them.

That prompted Newbury Green Party’s David Marsh to tweet: “Sadly our once pro-remain MP @RichardBenyonMP does not appear but then he puts loyalty to the party before what he actually believes in.”

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News in response, Mr Benyon said: “I’m absolutely determined to respect the referendum result.

“I think most of my constituents, whether they voted remain or leave, recognise there are negotiations going on and want us [the Government] to get on with it.

“They don’t want an MP who runs a constant guerrilla campaign to undermine the result of the referendum.

“I have never been afraid to vote against my own party.

“It amuses me that people think I’m just a toady who wants a job within the Government.

“I don’t want a job, I’m happy on the backbenches.”

Mr Benyon said he, alongside Zack Goldsmith and Oliver Letwin, spent “many hours” with the secretary of state working on amendments to the original bill.

He added: “There are some aspects with it [the bill] that I’m not happy with and I know the Government is making some changes.”

Mr Benyon said he voted against some of the amendments because he “didn’t think it was the right way forward”, but added: “I did not want to prevent the bill going through, but I wanted to improve it.”

He said that all 15 Conservatives who voted against the amendment, with the exception of Ken Clarke, voted in favour of the second bill.

Speaking about The Daily Telegraph’s front page, Mr Benyon said: “There is a big difference between mutiny and scrutiny.  

“The front page of The Daily Telegraph was actually offensive. They made out these people [the 15] were somehow trying to thwart the will of the people and the referendum result.

“I work with many of them.

“I think some of them are wrong; I think most of them are right from where they start from.

“They have chosen one route, to vote against.

“I have chosen another, to work behind the scenes with ministers – that’s just the way I prefer to get things done.

“An MP is elected to use their judgement, and my judgement was I didn’t want to prevent the bill going through.

“This is a technical bill and if it doesn’t pass, chaos ensues.”

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Article comments

  • Rebecca

    29/11/2017 - 17:05

    Oh, I've had meetings with this man and he has clearly stated we should not leave the EU and was 'amazed farmers voted for Brexit', yet he himself votes in support of everything his party tells him to. I used to be a Conservative, NEVER again


    • NWNThatcham

      29/11/2017 - 18:06

      We are now being asked to pay £40bln to leave the worlds largest trading bloc in order that we can renegotiate with the worlds largest trading bloc on less favourable terms. Its absolute madness.


    • NWNThatcham

      29/11/2017 - 18:06

      Its the whole 'will of the people' stuff that I don't get. Its as if democracy died on a single day in June 2016. He is implying that supporting the option of a change of date in Article 5 is now 'guerrilla warfare'.


  • jhross

    29/11/2017 - 15:03

    This is outrageous. Benyon and all the other supposed 'experts' should get behind quitting the EU. No matter how monumentally stupid the decision is and how many lives, jobs and business this wrecks, the public have spoken. Who cares how much it costs?! Go along like a sheep and don't say anything - just 1 public vote must determine everything - no matter how lied to the public were. This democracy in action!


    • NWNThatcham

      29/11/2017 - 17:05

      Who knows what goes through this toads mind? There must be no dissent. It is absolutely absolute I tell you. It doesn't matter that its only a minority, or that the will of the people have changed, its the will of the people you see. Absolutely. I'm determined to see it through. To. The. End. And then I'm off for a peerage in the Lords. I'm not a toady who wants a job, because being an MP isn't a job you see, its barely minimum wage for the likes of me. That means I just support the government and avoid any chaos. Chaos would just be terrible, we are doing absolutely fine now. Please move along.


    • NoisyNortherner

      29/11/2017 - 15:03

      The whole idea of giving the public a vote was stupid to begin with. The whole idea behind MPs is that they are elected to serve the interests of their constituents. Now, leaving aside the fact that good ole' Dickie is obviously not doing this, asking your man on the street about such a massively complicated issue is asking for trouble. Even worse is that the government appears to be screwing things up at every available opportunity so that any chance we did have of making the best of such an awful decision is being blown out of the water. I find it spectacularly depressing that reconsidering such a massive decision is seen as weak, rather than as taking the facts into account. With the world being carved up by Trump, Putin, and the like, there's never been a worse time to go it alone.


  • gitwit

    29/11/2017 - 14:02

    Bit of a coincidence that you never do though...


    • George3

      02/12/2017 - 14:02

      Indeed - to quote theyworkfor you: Richard Benyon is a Conservative MP, and on the vast majority of issues votes the same way as other Conservative MPs. and notably: Generally voted for reducing central government funding of local government 4 votes for, 0 votes against, 2 absences, between 2010–2017


  • Bombey

    29/11/2017 - 13:01

    How can you tell if an MP is lying? Their lips are moving.


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