MPs vow to defy 'bullying and threatening' newspaper headlines on Brexit vote: 'Murdoch can get stuffed'

UK

MPs have criticised “bullying” and “threatening” headlines in Brexit-backing newspapers as crucial legislation on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU returned to the Commons. 

Ahead of two days of crunch votes on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill and the possibility of damaging defeats inflicted on Theresa May, the tabloids turned their fire on potential pro-EU rebels in the Commons. 

The Sun’s front page says that MPs “have a choice”, adding: “Great Britain or Great Betrayal.” 

“Rebel Tory MPs could today destroy their prime minister, their government and the Brexit the 17.4m majority voted for,” the newspaper continues.

“In the end Remainer MPs have a simple choice: trust the people of Great Britain… or trigger a shameful betrayal.” 

The Sun: “Great Britain or Great Betrayal”

In what The Daily Express describes as a “warning” to all MPs in Westminster, its front page headline adds: “Ignore the will of the people at your peril”.

The newspaper continues: “Their constituents will be watching the votes closely and any betrayal of Brexit will not be forgotten the next time the general election ballot boxes open.” 

But Luciana Berger, a Labour MP, said editors and owners of British newspapers “who believe we’ll be cowed by your threatening headlines can think again”. 

“Tomorrow I’ll be voting for what I believe is best for my constituents and the future prosperity of our country”.

Labour MP Anna Turley, added: “Rupert Murdoch you can get stuffed. You’ve been a stain on this country’s character for decades. I’m not interested in your bullying. I will do what I believe to be best for the country and people I love.” 

Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham, pointed to both front pages with the comment: “These people think they can intimidate and threaten members of parliament. These threats, as Parliament considers the biggest issue facing us since the Second World War, are a real and present danger to our democracy. This is 2018 not the 1930s.” 

Conservative MP Anna Soubry, one of the leading pro-EU Tory rebels, referred to a quote from Winston Churchill: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, ‘it is the quality which guarantees all others’”. 

The remarks come as Theresa May prepares herself for a potentially bruising 48 hours in the Commons in order to get her flagship Brexit legislation back on track and remove 14 out of 15 amendments added to the bill by peers in the Lords. 

Addressing a meeting of the backbench 1922 Committee on Monday, ahead of the key votes, the Prime Minister said: “We must think about the message Parliament will send to the European Union this week.

”I am trying to negotiate the best deal for Britain. I am confident I can get a deal that allows us to strike our own trade deals while having a border with the EU which is as frictionless as possible.

“But if the Lords amendments are allowed to stand, that negotiating position will be undermined.”

Ms May looks set to avoid a humiliating defeat on a vote scheduled for Wednesday on the customs union. A number of potential pro-EU Conservative rebels, as well as leading Brexiteers, have now agreed to back a No 10 deal. 

But the government remains vulnerable to a damaging defeat on a “meaningful vote” amendment which would hand Parliament a decisive say over what happens next if it rejects a final Brexit deal. A compromise amendment on the issue has been put forward by the pro-EU rebel Dominic Grieve but the government is yet to declare whether they will be supporting it. 

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, wrote in the Guardian on Tuesday: “Instead of negotiating for Britain, the Prime Minister is lurching from crisis to crisis, increasing the risk that the talks break down, and we crash out without an agreement. We cannot go on like this.”

Sir Keir said a government compromise on a meaningful vote for Parliament at the end of the Brexit process would instead turn it into a “meaningless vote” if backed by MPs.

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