Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has accused MPs trying to prevent Brexit of “tearing up 400 years of history”, as she defended her right to prorogue Parliament to leave the EU without a deal if she became Prime Minister.
The former work and pensions secretary said it would not be her “priority” to suspend sittings in the House of Commons in the run-up to the October 31 deadline, but said she would be willing to “use all the tools at our disposal” if she won the race to replace Theresa May.
Speaking to The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, she also confirmed she had never taken Class A drugs after her rival in the Conservative contest Michael Gove admitted to using cocaine “on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago”.
Ms McVey said it should not be a bar to him becoming prime minister, saying she hopes “people will actually judge him on how good he’s been as a politician”.
On Brexit, she was was asked about her previous comments that she would be willing to prorogue Parliament in order to stop MPs from blocking the UK from leaving in a no-deal scenario when the Article 50 period ends.
She said: “That wouldn’t be my priority, I wouldn’t be looking to do that, no, what I’ve said is we would use all the tools at our disposal.
“What we have seen by MPs going against the democratic vote of the country, is they have torn up 400 years of history.
“They’ve ripped up the rule book, so it seems somewhat wrong to me that people wanting to frustrate the vote can rip up the rule book, yet should I want to use any tools at my disposal I would be seen as incorrect when I’m helping ensure the democratic will of the people.
“Can you see a conflict of thought in that process?”
Pressed on whether as PM she would go to the Queen and ask her to suspend Parliament, she simply said she would use “every tool at my disposal”.
She added: “The hypocrisy of people saying they would be ripping up the rule book and I would be using the laws.”
Asked if she would work with Nigel Farage given her views on Brexit are closely aligned with his, she rejected the idea, saying: “What I would be doing is delivering Brexit so we don’t need a Brexit Party once we’ve delivered Brexit.”
And she defended her plans to have a Cabinet full of only Brexiteers, saying there is limited time until October 31 and she cannot have people who are not “committed” to leaving on that date in her top team, even if that means sacking numerous senior ministers.
Ms McVey said if they originally voted Remain, but now agree we should leave by October 31, then they would be allowed to stay, and once the UK exits the EU “anybody can be in the Cabinet”.
Mr Gove said proroguing Parliament would be wrong “for many reasons”, telling The Andrew Marr Show: “I think it would not be true to the best traditions of British democracy.
“I argued that we should leave the European Union because I wanted us to take back control of our democracy and that means putting Parliament at the centre of decision making.”
Rory Stewart called for all the contenders to clarify their position on prorogation, and said: “Locking the door on Parliament would be offensive, undemocratic and ultimately futile.”