Cabinet ministers including Norfolk MP Liz Truss go against the government in key Brexit vote
PUBLISHED: 11:56 15 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:11 20 March 2019
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss was one of seven Cabinet ministers who defied the government to vote against delaying Brexit last night.
MPs voted to delay Brexit beyond the scheduled date of March 29 in dramatic parliamentary scenes which saw the Conservative Party split down the middle.
More than half of Tory MPs - including seven Cabinet ministers, at least 33 other ministers and whips, and five party vice-chairs - voted against Theresa May’s motion to put back the date when Britain leaves the EU.
Chief whip Julian Smith abstained, with sources suggesting he did so in order to be able to “broker peace going forward”.
Among those voting in the opposite lobby to the Prime Minister was Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay, who had opened debate on the motion on behalf of the government.
Others included defence secretary Gavin Williamson, international trade secretary Liam Fox, leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, transport secretary Chris Grayling, international development secretary Penny Mordaunt and chief secretary to the Treasury and Norfolk MP Liz Truss.
Ms Truss said last night: “I voted against a delay to Brexit. As a delay was passed by Parliament, I want to see deal agreed ASAP so we can minimise to short, technical, extension.”
Richard Bacon (South Norfolk), Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk), and Chloe Smith (Norwich North) also voted against the government.
While other Norfolk and Waveney MPs voted to extend Article 50.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman voted to extend Article 50 but tweeted last night: “Extraordinary. Many of us chose to resign from government because we disagreed with the PM and respect collective responsibility. Now anything goes. But when a prime minister’s own Cabinet ministers and whips vote against them, it’s all over.”
MPs also voted on whether to call a second referendum, an amendment put forward by The Independent Group’s Dr Sarah Wollaston.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis abstained from the vote, despite him previously welcoming his party backing another referendum.
The Labour Party told its MPs to abstain from voting on the amendment, as a spokesman for the People’s Vote campaign said they regarded the decision to press the referendum case to a vote as premature.
“We do not think today is the right time to test the will of the house on the case for a new public vote,” said the campaign spokesman.
“Instead, this is the time for parliament to declare it wants an extension of Article 50 so that, after two-and-a-half years of vexed negotiations, our political leaders can finally decide on what Brexit means.”