Tory MP ridiculed for saying 'Remoaner' plot to derail Brexit is behind Priti Patel and Boris Johnson criticism

Nadhim Zadawi said the outcry against both ministers was an attempt to "derail the Government" and force a u-turn on EU withdrawal by targeting 'big beasts in Brexit campaign'

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 08 November 2017 13:43
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Tory MP Nadhim Zadawi claims a 'remoaner' plot against Patel and Johnson

A Tory MP has been ridiculed for claiming a ‘Remoaner’ plot to derail Brexit is behind criticism of under-fire cabinet ministers Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister is expected to sack Ms Patel, the International Development Secretary, for holding secret meetings with Israeli politicians, while the Foreign Secretary has been widely condemned for mistaken remarks that may have lengthened the prison sentence of a British woman in Iran.

Nadhim Zahawi said the outcry against both ministers was an attempt to "derail the Government" and force a u-turn on Brexit by targeting “big beasts in the Brexit campaign”.

It comes as Ms Patel was summoned back to the UK to meet a furious Theresa May after her department admitted last night the International Development Secretary had held further meetings which she had failed to disclose.

Mr Zadhawi, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee, told BBC's Newsnight: “This is not an enemy state that she was somehow having clandestine meetings with.

“The Foreign Office knew during the trip she was having these meetings. Yes, the ambassador should have been there, she’s already admitted the mistake of not following procedure and apologised for it.

“I somehow feel that some of this stuff is being drummed up because both Priti and the Foreign Secretary were big beasts in the Brexit campaign and some Labour ‘Remoaners’ and others who think if we can take out some of these beasts and derail the government then maybe we can actually do a u-turn on Brexit.”

Ms Patel missed an urgent question in the Commons about her conduct as she had flown to Ethiopia for a work trip but the Foreign Secretary endured anger from MPs after he was forced to clarify remarks about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been in prison in Tehran since 2015.

Mr Johnson said there was no “connection” between his incorrect statement that the British charity worker was “teaching journalists” – and the fresh spying charges levelled against her in Iran.

Former Tory cabinet minister Nicky Morgan told The Independent: "I think this says more about the mindset of the Leave campaigners - rather than getting on with the job of negotiating with the EU in the national interest, they seem happier looking for imaginary plots."

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said both ministers should be sacked and dismissed the comments as "absolutely absurd criticism" which exhibited "a degree of paranoia" among Brexiteer Tories.

He added: “If they stay - if the Prime Minister was weak enough to let them stay - it would suggest the extent of which she is captured by the Brexit side of the Government."

Anna Soubry, a pro-EU Conservative, said Brexit had no bearing on her criticism of Mr Johnson, adding: "Boris Johnson has failed to meet the high bar of competence and dignity we expect of the Foreign Secretary.

"He was given a great opportunity to prove he was more than an affable loose cannon and he has been found seriously wanting."

Ms Patel has already apologised to the Prime Minister on Monday after failing to disclose a series of 12 meetings with senior Israeli figures during a family holiday in the country in August.

It has since emerged that she then held two additional meetings, one in the UK and one in the US, following her return from Israel.

Ms May is facing questions about the stability of her Government after she was forced to sack Defence Secretary Michael Fallon last week amid sexual harassment allegations.

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