Leave campaign ‘hijacked for dangerous ends’ – MP

The Leave campaign has been hijacked for dangerous ends, an MP has said.

Labour MP Catherine McKinnell said that while many had voted for Brexit for “legitimate” reasons, the movement had been taken over by other groups.

Her remarks came as MPs debated three separate petitions on Brexit, including one calling for Article 50 to be revoked which received more than six million signatures, making it the most supported petition in the Government’s e-petition history.

Opening the debate in Westminster Hall, Ms McKinnell spoke about the Remain march last month when people called for the Withdrawal Agreement to be put back to the British public.

She said a People’s Vote is the “only democratic way” out of the current situation.

“It contrasted with some of the really ugly, angry, threatening, sinister behaviour we saw outside Parliament on Friday by people who have clearly hijacked the Brexit campaign for much more dangerous ends.

“These were the people that were professing to be the spokespeople for the Leave campaign here on the streets of London.

“But we have run out of road here in Parliament. We cannot continue going round in ever-decreasing circles while the international standing of our country diminishes further by the day.”

Conservative former Wales secretary John Redwood asked how “pessimistic” predictions of decline following Brexit could be trusted.

“They said there would be a recession and big job losses, there would be investment collapse, there would be a share market collapse, and a house-building problem. And the reverse of all those things happened, with jobs up, no recession. We now have better growth than Germany or Italy.

“Why do they get it so wrong, and why should we believe her pessimistic forecast for 15 years’ time when they couldn’t get the first two years right?”

Ms McKinnell responded, saying the economy has been affected and investments are already stalling.

Labour MP Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood) said issues such as the impact of Brexit on security in Northern Ireland “were simply not discussed in 2016”.

She also highlighted that it had since come to light that leave campaigners “lied” and “broke the law” to win the referendum vote.

“It simply cannot be claimed in this context that the 2016 referendum result can accurately be read as the will of the people forever and a day,” she said.

The Independent Group MP Chuka Umunna (Streatham) warned that young people would be most “angered” by the impact of a no deal Brexit on their lives.

He said: “They are the ones who will never forgive this generation of politicians if we allow this catastrophe to happen.”

His Independent Group colleague Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) said there is “no version of Brexit” which will benefit the NHS or science and research in the UK.

Dr Wollaston likened Brexit to someone undergoing surgery with a consent form signed by their grandparents.

She said she had been exposed to abuse from pro-Brexit protesters who gathered outside Parliament last week.

Dr Wollaston said the crowds were screaming “traitor, bitch, and other parts of my anatomy” at her in a “really disgusting outpouring of hostility”.

Labour MP Jenny Chapman (Darlington) said the petition to revoke Article 50 had been an historic one for Parliament.

Ms Chapman said: “I recognise of course that one of those petitions has received astronomical, unprecedented, support. I don’t think we can just deal with each of these petitions equally this session because of the overwhelming support that one of them has received, and it is something we have never seen before.”

Ms Chapman added: “We are treating tonight as an opportunity to vote for something. A way to try to find out whether or not there is a majority in the house of Commons for a particular deal as a way forward. We don’t disagree with the proposition but we are going to be abstaining on that this evening.

Online Editors

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