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Newbury MP: "I was supporting Government policy"

Richard Benyon wanted to "cut the Prime Minister some slack"

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas

fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886639

Westminster Blog: Making the most of Brexit

NEWBURY MP Richard Benyon has defiantly stood by his decision to reject amendments to the Prime Minister’s Customs Bill this week, saying the Government should support the ‘Herculean’ task of securing a sensible Brexit deal.

The bill scraped through in the Commons on Monday evening, surviving by just three votes – 305 votes to 302 – after a backlash from pro-EU Conservatives.

Mr Benyon was one of 14 Tories who rebelled against a critical amendment which would prevent the UK from collecting duties or VAT on goods on behalf of the EU, unless there was a reciprocal arrangement from the latter.

The Government-backed revision was put forward by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hardline Brexit European Research Group (ERG) in light of the Prime Minister’s procurement of the Chequers deal, which Mr Benyon hailed as “the way forward”.

The Newbury MP added that he voted against the amendments tabled by the ERG on the basis that the Chequers deal adhered to the wording of the Brexit White Paper and because he wanted “to cut the Prime Minister some slack”.

Mr Benyon said: “I thought it was wrong to have accepted the amendments of the ERG.

“I wanted to remind the Government that they have a policy and they should stick to it.

“It was clear from what emerged that the ERG sought to wreck the Government’s negative position by putting in these amendments.”

Downing Street, which agreed to accept the four amendments, said they were ‘consistent’ with the White Paper.

But Monday’s narrow majority prompted some pro-EU Tories to accuse the Prime Minister of ‘caving in’ to the party’s Eurosceptic MPs. 

When asked whether his party was succumbing to the pressure by his colleagues pressing for a hard Brexit, amid a backdrop of split party politics, Mr Benyon said the Government should stand its ground.   

“The minority of Conservative MPs who are pushing towards a hard Brexit should not be the tail that wags the dog,” he said.

“Right across, parliamentary parties are split. There’s a real difficulty in trying to get a sensible Brexit that respects the referendum.

“People are exasperated. It’s incredibly complicated.

“There are those who want to fight for their own particular strand on either side of the soft or hard Brexit.

“The Government should not be swayed by one side or another.

“It’s a Herculean task and we should be supporting the Government in trying to achieve a sensitive Brexit.

“By voting against the wishes of my colleagues, I was actually supporting Government policy.” 

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Article comments

  • jhross

    19/07/2018 - 16:04

    I wish people would stop going on about this. The most important thing is democracy rules, no matter how monumentally stupid, uninformed (or illegally misinformed), borderline racist, economically dangerous and downright thick the decision was, we have to go along with it for some reason. Give the people what they want, even if they don't actually want it.

    Reply

  • kensom

    19/07/2018 - 12:12

    Wow this sinecure of a politician actually stood up! Please elect a different candidate next time.

    Reply

  • NewburyDenizen

    19/07/2018 - 12:12

    It's time the afraid racists and xenophobes in our government and public wake up and see just what a mistake brexit is, the years to come will look back on this as a huge mistake and it'll take generations to put right again, but that's typical tory attitude of "it'll be their problem".

    Reply

    • DonCossack

      19/07/2018 - 18:06

      As somebody who proudly voted leave and is neither xenophobic or racist, what utter drivel your sweeping generalisations are of people you clearly fail to understand. Please keep your bigotry to yourself, thanks.

      Reply

      • EugeneStryker

        19/07/2018 - 20:08

        Stating what your main reason for voting leave was might help NewburyDenizen understand a bit more about you.

        Reply

        • Bombey

          20/07/2018 - 20:08

          The irony of a chap called Don Cossack....

          Reply

  • Ihavenonickname

    19/07/2018 - 12:12

    Well sheeple, the wheels must be coming off the Brexit Wagon if Benyon votes against his party line!

    Reply

    • Bombey

      19/07/2018 - 16:04

      The Party line was what RB voted for.

      Reply

      • fourcotts

        19/07/2018 - 17:05

        as he always does - irrespective of the wishes, and votes, of his constituents. Frankly I fail to understand how he gets re-elected and maybe, next time, these chickens will actually come home to roost.

        Reply

        • Bombey

          20/07/2018 - 20:08

          Err, his constituents voted to remain...

          Reply

        • fourcotts

          20/07/2018 - 22:10

          and he keeps voting for leave policies, supporting government lines. The fact that this specific vote was an extreme leave view makes no difference to him, he will always go along with policy despite the views of his constituents. The simple fact is that he will always vote with the government and damn the rest of us.

          Reply

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