27/08/2019 17:30 BST | Updated 27/08/2019 17:36 BST

Anna Soubry Blasts Cowardly Tory MPs Who Privately Oppose No-Deal But Won’t Stop Boris Johnson

Independent MP adds that Nicky Morgan remark about her cabinet career "makes me weep".

Former minister Anna Soubry has blasted the cowardice of Tory MPs who privately oppose a no-deal Brexit but refuse to stop Boris Johnson pursuing one.

In a scathing attack on her former backbench colleagues, the independent MP said that history would judge those who failed to “act with courage” and went along with measures like suspending parliament to get the UK out of the EU by October 31.

Soubry, who cited cabinet minister Nicky Morgan as one of those who had put their career before their principles, spoke out as she joined 160 MPs who signed a declaration to “use whatever mechanism possible” to stop a no-deal exit.

The leader of the Independent Group For Change group of MPs was joined by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Plaid Cymru Commons leader Liz Saville Roberts, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas at the ceremony at Church House, Westminster.

Opposition MPs met earlier today to discuss a plan for averting a no-deal Brexit. Anna Soubry of Change UK said it has been agreed that passing legislation “must be the priority in stopping a no-deal Brexit” and that a no confidence vote is a last resort.

Jeremy Corbyn also tried to pile pressure onto Conservative MPs by writing to 116 Tory and independent MPs - including Theresa May and Philip Hammond - asking them to support efforts to block any move to quit the EU without an agreement with Brussels.

Soubry said that the 160 MP who signed the ‘Church House Declaration’ - which seeks to keep parliament sitting even if Johnson tries to suspend it - was proof that some backbenchers were ready to rise to the moment.

“History will record this: there were those who acted with courage and there were those who sat and did absolutely nothing,” she said.

“You all know who the people of courage have been and those who have failed. [Those] who will stop you in the corridors in parliament and say ‘of course this is absolutely madness, it’s dreadful’ but they will not go and do the right thing, which is to be true to their principles and do the right thing for their country and the right thing for their constituents.

“My fear is too many of them would be quite happy to see parliament suspended and not brought back because they can carry on not showing the courage. Each and every one of us knows somebody who voted against what they actually believe and that is a terrible indictment.”

Soubry afterwards singled out new culture secretary Nicky Morgan after she said on BBC Radio 4 that she would not quit her job to stop the government from proroguing parliament. 

Morgan, who said in June that shutting down parliament was “a mad suggestion”, said on Tuesday she was not going to quit over the issue.

“I’m not planning the ending of my cabinet career at this moment in time, because I like the rest of the cabinet am working very hard, both to support the government in its efforts to find a deal, but also to prepare for a no-deal if that is what ultimately has to happen,” she told the Today programme.

Soubry told HuffPost UK: “I listened to Nicky [Morgan] this morning on Radio 4 and it’s enough to make you weep. 

“This was somebody who was with us in the lobbies being brave and courageous to make sure parliament got a say on the deal and has now taken the Boris pledge. She actually used the word ‘my career, my new cabinet career’...”

Soubry also hit back at a ‘right wing’ Tory attack ad which claimed she and other party leaders were plotting to ‘cancel’ the referendum.

MPs return from their summer break next week and are gearing up for a huge constitutional clash with the government, amid fresh attempts to find a parliamentary procedure that could force the PM into seeking an extension of the UK’s membership of the EU.

The ‘Church House Declaration’ reads: “Any attempt to prevent Parliament sitting, to force through a no-deal Brexit, will be met by strong and widespread democratic resistance.

“We pledge to work together across parties and across our nations to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the people’s voice is able to be heard.”

In his letter to Tory MPs, Corbyn wrote: “I am writing to you to offer to work together, in a collegiate, cross-party spirit, to find a practical way to prevent no deal.”