The rebel Remainer MP who quit as justice minister this morning in protest against the Government has compared Brexit to the death penalty.
Dr Philip Lee stood down in a dramatic exit, saying he ‘could not look his children in the eye’ if he supported Theresa May‘s Brexit position.
Speaking later on in the House of Commons Dr Lee explained his decision, telling the house: ‘A Government’s first responsibility is to protect its citizens.
‘This is usually understood in military terms but I believe it applies more generally.
‘It means that sometimes when a majority of our people want something that is against the good of society, Government and Parliament has a responsibility to protect us.
‘This was the case with the death penalty, when for decades politicians went against the majority view and refused to reinstate it.
‘Now I believe it needs to be the case with the Brexit process.’
Dr Lee’s resignation was a painful blow to the PM, fuelling the idea that the Government was on course for a humiliating defeat over its flagship Brexit legislation.
But Mrs May managed to dodge defeat after offering a series of concessions to Remainer rebels to persuade them to keep to the party line.
MPs backed the Government on the issue of giving MPs a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final Brexit deal.
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The Commons rejected a Lords amendment that would have allowed Parliament to force the UK back into negotiations if they did not approve the final Brexit deal achieved by ministers.
But the victory was only possible after the PM today promised to rewrite the Bill when it returns to the Lords in order to include a scaled-back version of the amendment in question.
In the event, Dr Lee abstained on the crucial vote, saying he was ‘delighted’ that the Government had agreed to introduce an amendment giving Parliament ‘the voice I always wanted it to have in the Brexit process’.
‘This justifies my decision to resign and makes it a lot less painful,’ said Dr Lee.
‘The Prime Minister has given her word. I trust her and so I will abstain.’