Sleaford MP Caroline Johnson speaks out in Tory backlash against Prime Minister’s move to hold talks with Labour leader over Brexit
Dr Caroline Johnson, who has up until now backed Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU, was among outraged Conservative MPs lining up at Prime Minister’s Questions to accuse their leader of putting the country at risk by offering to hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn towards brokering a way cross-party forward on the current Parliamentary impasse.
Dr Johnson said: “The people of Sleaford and North Hykeham — like myself, like the country — voted for Brexit and want to see it delivered. I understand the Prime Minister’s saying that we have to look at the balance of risk. Indeed, I looked at the balance of risk myself and supported her deal, and I urge others in our party to do so.
“But if it comes to the point when we have to balance the risk of a no-deal Brexit versus the risk of letting down the country and ushering in a Marxist, antisemite-led Government, what does she think at that point is the lowest risk?”
Mr Corbyn looked on, shaking his head.
Dr Johnson was not alone in levelling such accusations in the House and on social media, but this provoked a wave of protest and denial from Labour supporters accusing her and others of lowering the tone and resorting to smear tactics.
Mrs May, in turn thanked Dr Johnson for the support she has shown for the Government’s deal and for the encouragement she is giving to others to support that deal.
She added: “I want to see that we are able to deliver for her constituents and for others across the country and that we, as I say, deliver Brexit, and do it as soon as possible. In delivering Brexit, we need to ensure that we are delivering on the result of the referendum. That is what I said yesterday, and that is what we will be looking to do.”
Mrs May defended the decision to talk with Mr Corbyn saying ‘every member of this House is involved in Brexit’.
She said: “I do not think the Labour Party should be in Government. It is the Conservatives that are delivering for people, and the leader of the opposition and I have different opinions on a number of issues.”
Others wondered what the benefit would be for Labour, with claims the offer of talks is a ‘trap’.
Mrs May said: “I think members of the public expect us to reach out and find a way through this. They want a solution. The country needs a solution, the country deserves a solution, and that is what I am working to find.”
Jeremy Corbyn said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s offer for talks following meetings I’ve had with members across this House, and look forward to meeting her later today.
“And I welcome her willingness to compromise to resolve the Brexit deadlock.”