The Prime Minister has been urged to spell out what negotiations are underway with Brussels amid warnings that a raft of Tory MPs will resign the whip if the Government ignores legislation to avoid delaying Brexit.
Following Conservative resignations in recent days including Amber Rudd at the weekend and Boris Johnson’s own brother, Jo, last week, Yorkshire MP Kevin Hollinrake said he believed negotiations over a deal with the EU are ongoing, but that he and his Commons colleagues would take greater confidence in the process if the basis of those negotiations was made clear.
The Thirsk and Malton MP also dismissed as “nonsense” any speculation that the Government was prepared to ignore an act of law that MPs are expected to pass today. Boris Johnson has said he will “refuse to accept” any “pointless delay” on Brexit but the new law, backed by Opposition MPs and peers, would compel him to abandon a no deal and ask the EU for a new three-month extension to the UK’s withdrawal.
Mr Hollinrake said: “Whatever happens...we need to be seen to play by the rules. They are there for a purpose. No-one is above the rule of law.”
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Hollinrake added: “I wanted to make that point openly and to the whip and chief whip that it wouldn’t be a situation I could be part of.”
Addressing whether other MPs felt similarly, he said: “From people I have spoken to, the rule of law is such a fundamental principle in this society that we take for granted. We can’t be in a situation of choosing which laws we conform to. We have to accept the law is there, whatever the circumstance.”
In an earlier tweet, Mr Hollinrake had warned the Prime Minister that a “significant number” of Conservative MPs would resign the whip, including himself, if the Government chose to ignore the legislation aimed at preventing a no deal Brexit.
A lack of activity in securing an exit deal and Mr Johnson’s decision to sack 21 Tory rebels last week saw work and pensions secretary Ms Rudd quit the Cabinet on Saturday.
Mr Hollinrake said he believed that genuine negotiations to avoid a no deal were underway as he urged the Prime Minister to give clarity in the Commons.
“I think there definitely is (negotiations underway) but I understand there is concern at this stage,” he said.
“It’s understandable, people don’t altogether take that on trust. It would be good to have that clarity on what negotiations are taking place and the basis for those negotiations.
“I don’t see why we can’t be clear on that. I think it would give a lot of people in the Commons greater confidence.”