Leading Remainer Dominic Grieve insists he is not part of anti-Brexit conspiracy
The former attorney general was accused of ‘supping with the devil’ by Brexiteers after attending a private meeting with exit opponents.
Leading Remainer Dominic Grieve denied being involved in an anti-Brexit conspiracy after addressing a private meeting in a Brussels base in London.
The former attorney general was accused of “supping with the devil” by Brexiteers after being seen at the event with former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and other opponents of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Mr Grieve, who was part of a group of Tories who pushed Theresa May into promising concessions ahead of a crucial Commons Brexit vote earlier this week, insisted it was “not a meeting to conspire with anybody”.
It certainly, from my point of view, was not a meeting to conspire with anybody Dominic Grieve
He told the Press Association “there was no conspiracy”.
“I went along to speak at a meeting,” he added.
“I often go to meetings to speak at people’s invitation and that’s what I did.
“The meeting had been called by one of my Conservative colleagues to discuss how the process of Brexit was unfolding and to seek a briefing from me as to how I thought the dynamics were playing out in Parliament.”
Mr Grieve said he believed the meeting had been held at Europe House in Smith Square because it was organised by an MEP.
The building is used by the European Parliament as well as the European Commission, which said it had nothing to do with the meeting.
Mr Grieve added: “I told the meeting what I say publicly all around the place.
If you sup with the devil you should use a long spoon and he (Dominic Grieve) is using an egg spoon Jacob Rees-Mogg
“Look at my lectures, go on my website, have a look at what I have to say about how I see the current dynamics of Brexit and the problems associated with it and the problems of trying to bring this to satisfactory conclusion.”
“It certainly, from my point of view, was not a meeting to conspire with anybody.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg warned that Mr Grieve should be “careful about the company he keeps” if he wanted to “maintain his position that this is not about stopping Brexit”.
The Brexiteer told the Daily Mail: “He is someone I trust and when he says he is not trying to frustrate Brexit I believe him but the people he is associating with are clear they do want to stop Brexit.
“If you sup with the devil you should use a long spoon and he is using an egg spoon.”
Mr Grieve said he disagreed “fundamentally” with Mr Rees-Mogg’s claim.
“Firstly, I disagree with the characterisation of any of the people present as being the devil,” he said.
“This is part of a language of politics I think we should avoid.”
The Tory MP acknowledged that his fellow backbencher may have made the comment “in a lighthearted way”.
Problem is we have a PM who bends in the wind according to which Tory faction is blowing at the time. But the final deal will need real words agreed and understood by all EU govts and Parliaments. She can’t face both ways forever.— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) June 13, 2018
But he added: “I don’t consider that any of the people I met were devils or could be characterised as such.
“Just because you disagree with Jacob Rees-Mogg doesn’t mean that you are a devil.”
The Government is expected to table a compromise amendment on Thursday to her flagship EU Withdrawal Bill.
Mr Grieve withdrew an amendment to the Bill earlier this week after an assurance from the Prime Minister that changes would be introduced to the to ensure that MPs get a real say on the final deal.
The MP said he could not be certain that the issue would be resolved reasonably.
He said: “I don’t know what’s going to happen today.
“I hope that this matter will be resolved and reasonably quickly but I can’t be certain.”
A European Commission spokesman said: “MEPs of all parties – including Ukip – organise meetings at the European Parliament’s office.
“Meetings organised by MEPs are not the Commission’s responsibility any more than meetings organised by British MPs in the British parliament are the responsibility of UK civil servants – and no-one represents the Commission at such meetings.”