Thu, 21 Mar 2019
Richard Benyon - Conservative
RICHARD Benyon has said that House of Commons speaker John Bercow was wrong to block Theresa’s May twice-defeated Brexit deal from being brought back to MPs.
The Newbury MP said that Mr Bercow’s decision on Monday to invoke a 400-year-old tradition to stop a third vote showed an inconsistency.
However, Mr Benyon said there were other measures to get around the decision but that it added to the fevered atmosphere of Parliament.
Should the deal come back the Remain-backing MP said: “My gut feeling is that it would not succeed.
“We are now in a different place with a short-term extension.
“I am determined that we should continue to respect the result of the referendum.
“We now have to do that in a way that Parliament can agree to.
“If [the deal] comes back I will support it.
“I will support any measure that I feel respects a clear decision by this country to leave the European Union.
“As I have been saying to colleagues in the ERG (European Research Group), this deal offers the best deal for all of us.
“If they continue on voting it down we will end up with a softer form of Brexit.
“During the referendum campaign, people like Nigel Farage and other leaders of the Leave campaign were bigging up the idea of a Norway arrangement and I suspect that’s where we will end up."
When asked if he would support a Norway-plus arrangement, Mr Benyon said: “If it came to a choice between no Brexit and a softer Brexit then yes.
"Norway-plus or a Switzerland arrangement would mean businesses would still be able to trade on a free and open basis but we would not be part of the requirements under EU treaties to go for a closer union, which I think would please many people."
Mr Benyon said that it would not be easy to exit the EU as it had taken 12 years to enter into the common market and more to incorporate EU laws in the UK.
"I think many people understand but Parliament, like most of the country, is split down the middle.
"It's deeply frustrating. Most of my colleagues want to find a solution that allows us to move on."
Mr Benyon said he believed that "a huge amount of investment" could be released if Parliament could reach a deal.
When asked whether he was under any pressure from members of the West Berkshire Conservative Association, he said: "There are those who make their views very clear to me, Brexiteers who have been wanting it for many years to others who are opposed to Brexit.
"I try to explain that the actions I have taken have been to recognise the result of the referendum but not to leave with no deal. I am desperately working for us to leave with a deal."