Brexit 'collaborator' slur rejected by Tory MP Sandbach

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Antoinette Sandbach
Image caption,
Antoinette Sandbach: "We must work together and not seek to divide"

A former Conservative member of the Welsh Assembly has hit back at claims that Tory MPs aiming to amend the UK government's Brexit plans are acting as "collaborators" with Labour.

Antoinette Sandbach, now MP for Eddisbury in Cheshire, said the use of that word was "personally offensive".

She referred to her mother's family, who had lived under Nazi occupation in the Netherlands during the 1940s.

Ms Sandbach said: "We must work together and not seek to divide."

The MP, who represented north Wales in the assembly from 2011 to 2015, had been named by the Daily Telegraph as one of 15 potential Conservative "Brexit mutineers" on the EU Withdrawal Bill, prompting accusations of bullying behaviour by the newspaper.

They were also branded as "dissidents" by fellow Tory MP Sir Bill Cash in a column for The Times.

'Best interests'

Replying on The Times website on Friday, Ms Sandbach said she respected the referendum result to leave the EU, saying: "Every MP owes it to their constituents to scrutinise the process and help to reach that outcome.

"There are, however, options around the type of Brexit we pursue and I must act in the best interests of my constituents and businesses in my constituency."

Ms Sandbach also rejected "any suggestion that there is a strategy of collaboration with Labour".

"Such a comment, along with recent headlines branding individuals as 'mutineers', are deeply divisive and personally offensive to someone whose family was thrown out of their house by Nazis and lived under Nazi occupation."

She noted that between 2010 and 2015, Sir Bill voted against the Conservative-led government more than 80 times.

"I would not accuse Sir Bill of collaborating with Labour despite such a high rebellion rate. Such comments are unfit of a Member of Parliament," she said.

"For the sake of the future of our country, we must work together and not seek to divide."

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May said she hoped Parliament could "come together" on Brexit despite differences in strategy.

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