A Cheshire MP has come out fighting after she was accused of trying to stop Brexit when she voted against the government this week.
Antoinette Sandbach, MP for Eddisbury, which covers Malpas, joined 11 other Conservative MPs to support an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve that parliament will have final say on a deal with the European Union.
The Daily Mail included her picture on a highly-critical front page but Ms Sandbach, who has won two elections in two years, insisted she was ensuring the Bill would be put under the correct level of scrutiny.
Judging from some comments that I have received, this vote has been interpreted as a means of frustrating or stopping Brexit,” she said.
“This is categorically not what the vote was about. We are leaving the European Union and I will continue to support the Prime Minister in achieving that, on the best possible terms.
“Rather, this vote was enshrining in law a promise the government has made, that parliamentary scrutiny of the process will be maintained. That is right constitutionally and in the interest of respecting our democracy.
“As members of parliament, we have a responsibility to provide checks and balances on the government and the Bill as written originally would have weakened the ability of parliament to strengthen legislation.
“Amendment 7 ensures that wide and sweeping statutory instrument powers, also known as ‘Henry VIII’ powers, could not be used in a way that would avoid parliamentary scrutiny in implementing the withdrawal agreement without first bringing a statute to parliament.
“This issue is fundamentally about process. If we get the process right, then we have the best chance of achieving a deal that is right for post-Brexit Britain.
“There was an overwhelming majority in parliament to trigger Article 50, including my vote, and the intentions of those who voted for amendment 7 on Wednesday are to represent our constituents throughout this process and to have a say on the terms of our exit.
“We are leaving the European Union, but we must do it in the right and proper way.”
Ms Sandbach said that it is important to stress the amendment won’t slow down or stop Brexit and that out of 36 votes on the Withdrawal Bill, she has supported the government on 35 of them.
She added: “It is so important that context is given to this vote before people attack my motives and those of my colleagues.
“I have repeatedly said that we must move beyond the divide lines of the referendum campaign. A ‘Remain vs Leave’ narrative is damaging and unhelpful. As are newspaper headlines attacking individuals for voting with their conscience and with their country’s interests at heart.
“It is critical that we build consensus and move forward as one. Parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiations can only benefit achieving that consensus.”
“I will continue to put Eddisbury first and I can only do that if parliament has sufficient oversight.”