Conservative and opposition MPs have slammed a top minister for fear-mongering after he said derailing or stopping the government’s Brexit plan would see a rise in far-right extremism.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the Daily Mail that the party risked cheating and isolating the millions of UK citizens who voted to leave the EU, ending its 350-year period of “moderate” politics. He urged both pro-Remain and ‘hard Brexit’ party colleagues to drop their “political game-playing” and row in behind Theresa May’s deal.
MPs are scheduled to vote on accepting the deal May negotiated with the EU in the House of Commons on Tuesday. However, with more than 100 Tory MPs opposing the deal, it is expected to be rejected.
While Grayling stopped short of predicting riots on the street if Brexit was weakened or reversed, he painted a picture of a “less tolerant society” and a “more nationalistic nation,” as indicated by the incident with pro-Remain MP Anna Soubry.
“It will open the door to extremist populist political forces in this country of the kind we see in other countries in Europe,” he added.
Soubry was harassed by high-vis vest-wearing pro-Brexit supporters during a BBC News interview outside Parliament on Monday. But the MP would not let Grayling use the incident to promote his agenda.
Irresponsible nonsense. The 15 yobs who have been roaming outside Parliament do not represent anyone but themselves. It’s shameful to validate them in this way. Right wing extremists have always existed #Brexit is just an excuse – this is their real agenda pic.twitter.com/bGZILu7NuZ
— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) January 12, 2019
Grayling has been accused of government fear-mongering from all corners of Westminster since his comments, with Labour MP David Lammy calling the use of a minority far-right threat as “gutter politics.”
This is a desperate attempt by a government minister to use a tiny extremist minority to hold our democracy to ransom. It is gutter politics.
History shows us appeasement only emboldens the far right. https://t.co/nq0Msds8pT
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) January 11, 2019
“This kind of scaremongering is not only dangerous, but it is embarrassing,” wrote the Lib Dems Brexit spokesperson Tim Blake.
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