Labour's departing Brexiteer Gisela Stuart urges 'relentless' scrutiny of deal

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One of Labour's leading Brexit supporters has urged the opposition to scrutinise Britain's exit deal from the European Union constructively and relentlessly, as she made possibly her final appearance in the Commons.

Gisela Stuart, who co-chaired the victorious Vote Leave campaign during the referendum, told MPs the next Parliament would have "a very difficult task" in implementing last year's Leave vote.

The Birmingham Edgbaston MP announced on Wednesday she would not be seeking re-election, and joked at Business questions she would miss the Commons more than it missed her.

However, MPs were quick to pay tribute to the Labour MP, who was first elected in 1997.

Ms Stuart said it had been "a privilege" to serve her constituency for 20 years.

She added: "The next parliament has a very difficult task. The government has to implement the will of the people, as expressed on June 23 last year.

"The opposition has to scrutinise the government in a constructive but nevertheless relentless way, to ensure that we get the best deal.

"Finally, can I just paraphrase Nancy Astor? I shall miss this House more than the House will miss me."

She also said she would be out on the campaign trail for Labour ahead of June's election.

Commons Leader David Lidington said: "She was characteristically gracious and self-deprecating in her remarks.

"I think that those of us who have served with her in this House will remember her contributions for a very long time."

Conservative MP Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) added: "We build up lasting and enduring friendships with Members of Parliament from all parties, and none more so than (Ms Stuart).

"She will leave an enduring legacy in the work that she did on Brexit and I'm grateful to her.

"With your end-of-term attitude, Mr Speaker, I can say I will miss you, Gisela, and I wish you well for the future."

It came as Labour's Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) said the decision to call an early election would leave the House in a "weakened position" for negotiating a good deal with the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is seeking a mandate to deliver her Brexit deal against opposition from Labour, the SNP and Liberal Democrats.

Mr Sheerman said: "Many of my constituents find that call for an early election has got in the way of accountability for people like me, who wanted to stay in the European Union, accepted the will of the people, but are going to fight like mad to make sure we get a good deal.

"If we can have the money for our public services he mentioned, surely we should have a good deal, and this House will now have a weakened position in terms of making sure that is delivered."