Tory rebel Stephen Hammond: I take no pleasure in defying Theresa May and I don't want to block Brexit

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tory Brexit rebel Stephen Hammond has told talkRADIO he did not enjoy defying the Government last night, and insisted he has no intention of blocking Brexit.

Hammond was sacked as Conservative vice-chairman by Theresa May after he and 10 other Tory MPs backed an amendment tabled by Dominic Grieve to the EU Withdrawal Bill, which gives the House of Commons a vote on the final Brexit deal.

The rebellion ensured the Government suffered a humiliating defeat on the bill ahead of Theresa May's trip to Brussels today.

Speaking to Julia Hartley-Brewer, Hammond said "I take no pleasure in what happened last night", adding that he "respects" the decision by Theresa May to sack him.

Lib Dem leader Vince Cable has said last night's rebellion was all about stopping Brexit. But Hammond said that was "usual Liberal Democrat hyperbole, [it's] nothing to do with that. I'm a democrat and I respect the will of the people."

Explaining his stance, Hammond said he put his name on the amendment back in September and the Government had not modified its stance, leaving him no option but to back the amendment in the Commons. 

Julia put it to Hammond that Parliament has already voted to sanction the referendum and also to trigger Article 50, and asked Hammond how many more 'says' Parliament needs.

However Hammond said those votes had nothing to do with what the final Brexit actually looks like, and thus it is "only right" that Parliament also has a vote on this issue.

Hammond also put it to Julia that, as a Leave voter, she took a stand in favour of Parliamentary sovereignty - and now wants to deny MPs a say in the Brexit process.

There was even a hint that Hammond may defy the Government again on plans to enshrine a fixed final Brexit date, saying "I haven't made my mind up yet."

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