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12th Jun 2018

Tory MP resigns in protest over Brexit

James Dawson

‘Resigning my post in this Government will allow me to work towards what I believe can be a better future, inside or outside the EU’

Conservative MP Phillip Lee has resigned in protest at the government’s handling of Brexit ahead of two days of votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Lee served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Youth Justice, Victims, Female Offenders & Offender Health, and had opposed Brexit prior to the 2016 vote.

In a resignation letter he cited the Brexit process and “the Government’s wish to limit Parliament’s role in contributing to the final outcome” as his reasons for stepping down.

The move was welcomed by staunch Remainer and Lib Dem leader Vince Cable MP, who Tweeted; “He’s showing the courage of his convictions that many of his colleagues – and, indeed, the Labour leadership – lack.”

Labour MP Chuka Umuna also praised the move, declaring; “The resignation of a Government minister who has immediately gone on to endorse a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal is a hugely significant moment.”

Lee stated in his resignation letter that he feared he wouldn’t be able to look his children in the eye if he didn’t take a stand.

“Resigning as a minister from the Government is a very difficult decision because it goes against every grain in my soul. The very word resign conveys a sense of giving up, but that is the last thing I will do.”

“If, in the future, I am to look my children in the eye and honestly say that I did my best for them I cannot, in all good conscience, support how our country’s exit from the EU looks set to be delivered.”

Parliament will vote later today to decide if MPs should have a decisive say on any deal struck with the EU this autumn on Brexit.

Lee believes the Tories want to sideline Parliament.

“It is important that individual ministers and Parliamentarians should be able to influence and speak up on these issues,” his resignation letter continued.

“Resigning my post in this Government will allow me to work towards what I believe can be a better future, inside or outside the EU, for my children, my constituents and my country.

“That will start today when MPs vote on the House of Lords’ amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill and I will support the amendment which – if it is adopted – will empower Parliament to reject a bad deal and direct the Government to re-enter discussions.”