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What the papers say: Tory Brexit rebels have some explaining to do

15 November 2017

8:30 AM

15 November 2017

8:30 AM

The EU withdrawal bill survived its first Parliamentary test last night. But it still has a long way to go, and a group of Tory MPs are likely to ensure that it is far from plain sailing for the government. For those on the Conservative back benches plotting to defy the Prime Minister on this Brexit bill, the Daily Telegraph has a message: why? The paper says that Labour MPs hoping to ‘put every obstacle in the path of Brexit’ can at least make the point they are in opposition. Rebel Tory MPs have no such excuse, according to the Telegraph, pointing out that many of this group backed the triggering of Article 50 and yet now appear to have changed their minds. This isn’t a ‘witch hunt’, insists the Telegraph, which praises Ken Clarke for his ‘excellent speech’ yesterday in which he explained why he is opposed to Brexit. But at least ‘he is consistent, and voted against invoking Article 50. His 15 fellow ‘rebels’ did not’, says the Telegraph – and it is for them to explain why they appear to have ‘suddenly changed their minds’.

‘Think the Tories have problems?’ asks the Sun. Then take a look at Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘socialist utopia’ Venezuela, which yesterday defaulted, plunging the country further into crisis. This is something of an inevitability for ‘hard-left’ regimes, says the paper, which criticises the Labour leader for referring to the impoverished nation, where people are ‘already starving’, as a ‘better way of doing things’. Corbyn owes his popularity to ‘naïve young fans and a hardcore of Corbynite MPs’. But this masks the reality that the Labour party is stuffed with ’Marxists, bone-headedly wedded to an economic theory which unfailingly brings poverty, starvation and death’, the Sun concludes.

Meanwhile, the Guardian praises Theresa May for her speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet in which she called out Russia, telling the country’s president: ‘We know what you are doing’. The PM ‘pulled no punches’, says the paper. But why did she choose to talk about Russia and not Brexit – or indeed about Donald Trump? It is hard to ignore the politics at play, suggests the Guardian, pointing out that May is not a politician who usually ’likes to pick a fight with Russia’. Her speech also helped ‘distract’ from the government’s EU withdrawal bill concession – and it also enables her to look strong and stable for once. What’s more, her stance on Russia ‘sets a potential dividing line with Jeremy Corbyn who, if prime minister, might be less willing to mount a political attack on Russia’. But whatever the motivation for May fingering Russia, one ‘important justification’ is worth remembering: it looks ‘increasingly likely’ that the ‘charges’ against Russia ‘are not paranoid but true’.

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