'To give the idea that I am trying to block Brexit is completely ridiculous': Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy hits back after being named among the 'mutineers'
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has been labelled a 'Brexit mutineer' today as tensions mount over fears the UK's withdrawal from the EU would be derailed by Tory rebels.
The Daily Telegraph listed him among a number of MPs reported to be intending to vote against fixing the date of Brexit in law,
But Mr Lefroy today told the Express & Star there was no way he was trying to block Brexit.
He said: "To give the idea that I am trying to frustrate or block Brexit is completely ridiculous. That is absolutely not the case.
"If I had wanted to do that I would have voted against Article 50 and against the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill.
"By scrutinising the various stages of the bill I am looking after the interests of my constituents."
Mr Lefroy said new measures to enshrine the date of Brexit in law were 'unnecessary' because 'we have already said in Article 50 when we are leaving'.
"It has been made quite clear that we are leaving two years after Article 50 was triggered," he said.
"You have already got that in law. In my view there always has to be some small view of flexibility in case the negotiations need it.
"It would be completely ridiculous to send the country over a cliff edge because of a few hours here and there.
"I think the Government recognises that and will no doubt clarify what its intentions are."
Fifty six per cent of Mr Lefroy's Stafford constituents - some 43,386 people - voting to leave the EU.
Tempers frayed after Bernard Jenkin said any MPs who did not want to fix the Brexit date are "open to the charge that they don't want us to leave the European Union", prompting fellow senior Tory Anna Soubry to label him a "disgrace".
Ms Soubry also hit out at the Daily Telegraph front page labelling her, Mr Lefroy and other prominent Tory critics of the legislation 'the Brexit mutineers'.
It was a "blatant piece of bullying that goes to the very heart of democracy", she said although she said she viewed it as a "badge of honour".
Brexit Minister Steve Baker said: "I regret any media attempts to divide our party.
"My Parliamentary colleagues have sincere suggestions to improve the Bill which we are working through and I respect them for that."
The amendment fixing the date of Brexit will not be voted on until next month at the earliest, and the Government survived the early skirmishes in the battle to get the so-called repeal bill through the Commons.
A series of attempts to rewrite the legislation were seen off with Government majorities ranging from 20 to 266.