MERIDEN MP Dame Caroline Spelman is facing questions after she voted against a motion to avoid a no-deal Brexit – despite her months of campaigning.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was defeated yesterday (September 3) after a majority of MPs voted to prevent a ‘no deal’.
A group of 21 Tory MPs defied the newly elected PM and voted against the government, despite his pledge to suspend them as Conservative MPs if they did.
It was widely rumoured in the national press that Dame Caroline would join the rebelling Tory MPs.
But the ex-cabinet minister – who has long campaigned to avoid a no-deal – voted against the motion.
Ahead of the vote yesterday, she told the Solihull Observer website: “For the record I am not going to vote against the government.”
We asked her further questions about her decision.
She told us: “I pledged to support the government in a confidence vote and last night the whips cast the vote as such.”
After further questioning, Dame Caroline – who voted for ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum in 2016 – said: “Last night, I honoured my pledge not to bring my own government down in a confidence vote.
“My decision was not taken lightly as it has brought forward the prospect of an early general election which I am not convinced is in the country’s best interests at this critical juncture when the government needs to be in detailed negotiation with the EU and Parliament should be sitting to debate both the withdrawal agreement and the subsequent steps post 31 October.
“I continue to stand up for the jobs and livelihoods of people living in Meriden and in that regard will continue to fight for us to leave the EU with a deal rather than without a deal.
“I believe that the Prime Minister needs support in order to enable this to happen and to bring back a bill after the EU Council meeting in October to meet the October 31 deadline.”
Today, a second vote to pass a bill that would delay Brexit until next year was passed.
It would also prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal unless a withdrawal agreement is secured – or ‘no deal’ is approved in Parliament.
Borough Liberal Democrat councillor Laura McCarthy tweeted after Tuesday’s vote: “Disappointing that after months of rightly speaking out on the terrifying consequences of a no-deal Brexit, when it came to the crunch Caroline Spelman put her career before the people of Meriden.”
On the back of the Commons defeat, the government has lodged a motion to trigger a snap general election, which would require support from two-thirds of MPs.
Mr Johnson has pledged to leave the EU without a deal by October 31, if necessary – but claims his first priority is to secure a withdrawal agreement with Brussels.
In the referendum, 56 per cent of constituents from Solihull – which includes Meriden – voted to Leave the EU.
Solihull MP Julian Knight also voted with the government, as expected.
Dame Caroline was the only MP to change her vote at today’s first reading of the bill to block a no-deal Brexit. She voted for the bill.