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Esther McVey would suspend parliament to force no-deal Brexit

Contender: Esther McVey
Contender: Esther McVey

By Alain Tolhurst

Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has accused MPs trying to prevent Brexit of "tearing up 400 years of history", as she defended her right to prorogue Parliament to leave the EU without a deal if she became Prime Minister.

The former work and pensions secretary said it would not be her "priority" to suspend sittings in the House of Commons in the run-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline, but said she would be willing to "use all the tools at our disposal" if she won the race to replace Theresa May.

Speaking to The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, she also confirmed she had never taken Class A drugs after her rival in the Conservative contest, Michael Gove, admitted using cocaine "on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago".

Ms McVey said it should not be a bar to him becoming prime minister, saying she hoped "people will actually judge him on how good he's been as a politician".

On Brexit, she was asked about her previous comments that she would be willing to prorogue Parliament in order to stop MPs from blocking the UK from leaving in a no-deal scenario.

She said: "That wouldn't be my priority, I wouldn't be looking to do that, no, what I've said is we would use all the tools at our disposal. What we have seen by MPs going against the democratic vote of the country, is they have torn up 400 years of history.

"They've ripped up the rule book, so it seems somewhat wrong to me that people wanting to frustrate the vote can rip up the rule book, yet should I want to use any tools at my disposal I would be seen as incorrect when I'm helping ensure the democratic will of the people. Can you see a conflict of thought in that process?"

Pressed on whether as PM she would ask the Queen to suspend Parliament, she said she would use "every tool at my disposal".

Mr Gove told the Andrew Marr show proroguing Parliament would be wrong and not true to the best traditions of British democracy. "I argued that we should leave the European Union because I wanted us to take back control of our democracy and that means putting Parliament at the centre of decision making."

Belfast Telegraph

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