Burnley MP takes swipe at 'out-of-touch wealthy Tories' as Brexit chaos continues

Burnley MP Julie Cooper has spoken of the "chaos" currently enveloping Parliament as yet more votes on the Brexit process failed to command a majority.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 12:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 4:24 pm
Julie Cooper MP

The Labour MP spoke to the Burnley Express from Westminster after yet another day of debates and voting resulted in no clear way forward as Britain seeks to leave the EU, blaming the influential Tory European Research Group for refusing to compromise.

Mrs Cooper, who has previously stated her strong opposition to leaving without a deal but also the importance of honouring the result of the referendum to leave, described the current situation as "dreadful" and admitted she did not know what would come next.

She also described how MPs were feeling "battered" by the process and how she receives three emails a minute about Brexit, all with different viewpoints.

Burnley's MP voted for pro-European Tory Ken Clarke's proposal for a UK-wide customs union with the EU, which was defeated by just three votes, and she also voted in favour of Tory whip Nick Boles' proposal for Common Market 2.0, remaining in the European single market and seeking a temporary customs union with the EU, defeated by 21 votes.

Mrs Cooper, who abstained in the votes for a confirmatory referendum and parliamentary supremacy, also took a swipe at the ERG which she said was out-of-touch and had no idea how Burnley people live.

She said: "I receive three emails a minute about Brexit, all with different viewpoints. That just shows how split the country is on this issue.

"I honestly don't know what will happen next now. We have got to get on and sort a deal, and that means compromise. No-one is going to be entirely happy but the small hardcore group of wealthy Tory MPs are frustrating these compromise efforts.

"This ERG is made up of very wealthy individuals who are laughing at the country. They have a sense of entitlement, people who have always been wealthy and landed, and have no idea how people in Burnley live.

"If jobs and livelihoods are lost through no deal this won't affect them in any way. They are holding the country to ransom. Other MPs are feeling battered by this process and emotionally exhausted. We are going round in circles"

Mrs Cooper said that while not perfect, the two alternatives she voted for would have allowed Britain to leave the political arena of the EU whilst retaining close economic ties and protecting jobs.

She added: "I was initially encouraged in the voting lobby when I saw more Tory MPs voting our way than I have before so I was bitterly disappointed to see the votes fail because of this hardline group. It would have given us a framework to make a bespoke deal for the UK.

"The whole process at the moment is an absolute shambles. The clock is ticking away and we are no nearer to finding a solution. In the meantime, other important business which should be being looked at is being ignored."

Despite the frustrations and pressure, Mrs Cooper said the process had not made her regret her job.

"I hope the people that voted for me did so because they trusted my judgement and integrity. The situationis stressful but I've never been one to shy away from my principles and this made me more determined to be a force for good," she added.