Published On: Tue, Jun 12th, 2018

Brexit minister RESIGNS: May suffers humiliating BLOW as MP QUITS over her Brexit policy | Politics | News

Dr Lee made his shock announcement that he was quitting as a justice minister at the end of a speech on human rights at an event run by the Bright Blue thinktank.

Despite being a Remainer in the Referendum, Dr Lee made it clear to the Express as he left that he was more concerned about the threat of a “fudge” over Brexit.

He said: “I will be issuing a statement later, but let me assure readers of the Daily Express and others that this is not about Remain or Leave it is because I fear we are having the worst of all worlds forced upon us with a fudge in the middle.”

Earlier he told an astounded audience that a Government’s first duty is to protect its citizens not just in military means but “sometimes when a majority of our people want something that is against the good of society.”

He went on: “I believe that the evidence now shows that the Brexit policy our Government is currently pursuing on the basis of the 2016 referendum is detrimental to the people we are elected to serve.

“Certainly, it now seems inevitable that the people, economy and culture of my own constituency will be affected negatively. And I cannot ignore that it is to them that I owe my first responsibility as their Member of Parliament.”

He made it clear he wants the freedom to vote against the Government on the Withdrawal Bill.

He said: “In particular, there is one amendment which – if it is adopted – will empower Parliament to take back control of the process, if necessary rejecting a bad deal and directing the Government to re-enter discussions, extending or pausing negotiations which are being badly rushed because of the deadline that Article 50 imposes.

Attacking the Government position, he added: “A fake choice between a ‘bad deal’ and a cliff-edge ‘no deal’ – a vote between bad and worse – is not a meaningful choice.

“It would breach such fundamental principles of human rights and Parliamentary sovereignty that we would not recognise it as being valid in other countries. It is not one that our Parliament should accept.

“If it comes to it, my Parliamentary colleagues and I will have to ask ourselves whether we can vote in our own Parliament – that bastion of liberty, freedom and human rights – in favour of something that we would rightly criticise elsewhere. For me, the answer will be I cannot.

“That is why I urge our Government to do the right thing and amend the legislation to ensure that Parliament is properly able to exercise its duty to our country and our constituents by ensuring we are not stuck with a bad deal or no deal.”

But giving his reason for going, he said: “It is hard to be part of a Government that would countenance the breach of such fundamental principles – and it is important that individual ministers and Parliamentarians should be able to speak up. But effective Government in our country also relies on the important principle of collective responsibility.

“So I am very sad to have to announce that I feel I must resign as a minister so that I can properly speak out for my country and my constituents.”

Earlier he made a thinly veiled attack on the post-Brexit vision of many senior Brexit Tories on Britain deregulating and scrapping the Human Rights Act.

Arguing that “the Conservative way” was creating and upholding human rights he listed a series of historical Tory figures including the philosopher Edmund Burke, former prime ministers Sir Robert Peel, Benjamin Disraeli and Margaret Thatcher, and reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury who had shaped human rights as we know them today.

He said that Theresa May’s famous Downing Street words on tackling “burning injustices” was in line with that.

But he warned against the Brexiteer free market view of life outside the EU.

He said: “We should be guided by the courage, determination and wisdom that Wilberforce showed to end slavery. And that Shaftesbury showed to end child exploitation. They had powerful opponents. Because the end of the slave trade meant the end of a very profitable market that damaged the economy in places like Bristol, Liverpool and the West Indies. The end of child labour and the introduction of compulsory education made life hard for families who relied on income from their children and for factory owners who faced expensive regulation.

“Tackling those injustices was not the free market choice, nor the profitable choice. But it was the right thing to do. It was the Conservative thing to do.”

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