Brexiteers ‘can lower spears’ with deal ending Brexit battle, Johnson told
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Tory MPs have hailed the end of the “battle for Brexit” as they praised Boris Johnson for securing a deal with the EU.
In the Commons on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said the agreement would allow the UK to take control of its “national destiny”.
The deal was welcomed by several backbenchers who have long campaigned for the UK to exit the EU, with some claiming that Mr Johnson had “saved our democracy”.
What I call the battle for Brexit is now over, we won. But I suspect the battle for the union is now about to begin
Conservative former minister Mark Francois compared his Brexit-supporting colleagues to “Spartans” and suggested that they could now “lower our spears”.
Mr Francois, who chairs the European Research Group, told MPs: “Thanks to this agreement on New Year’s Eve we will finally leave the European Union forever, so perhaps Big Ben will bong for Brexit after all.
“Nigel Farage memorably said last week, ‘the war is over’. Well it sometimes has felt like a war in this place.
“So perhaps we should now take on board the advice of the Prophet Isaiah who said, ‘and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’.
“In that case, perhaps I and my Spartan friends should now lower our spears too, but perhaps keep them to hand just in case one day someone, perhaps the leader of the Opposition, should try and take us back in.
“My colleagues in the European Research Group have fought long and hard for this day and we have sometimes been lampooned or even vilified by the Remain-dominated electronic media for our trouble.
“When all we have ever wanted is one thing – to live in a free country that elects its own government and makes its own laws here in Parliament and then lives under them in peace.”
Mr Francois added: “What I call the ‘battle for Brexit’ is now over, we won. But I suspect the battle for the union is now about to begin.
“We’re about to write a new chapter in what Sir Winston Churchill called our island’s story. But now, after a truly epic struggle, we will do it as a free people.”
Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that Brexit was “never about being anti-European”.
He told the Commons: “I welcome this deal, it’s not perfect, nobody here’s going to say you can get a perfect deal because there are two sides in this discussion.
“But it is a huge advance, a huge advance, on where we might have been. We take back control of our sovereignty, we are a sovereign nation again and with that power, we can set our own direction in international as well as domestic relations.”
He added: “Brexit was never about being anti-European. Brexit is about restoring power to the UK.
“I love Europe, half my family have worked in Europe all their working lives, I studied out there.
“I love its idiosyncrasies, I love its language differences, I love its arts and its culture and its people.
“But I am British, I’m a member of the United Kingdom and I want to respect them and be their friend.
“For too long, we moved into the same house with them and we didn’t get on. We’re now just going to move next door and be good neighbours, good friends and good allies.”
Tory Sir Bill Cash (Stone) paid tribute to Mr Johnson for his achievements, which he said Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher would have been proud of.
He said: “Our Prime Minister, a great classicist, like his hero Pericles, is the first citizen of his country, and like him has saved our democracy. Like Alexander the Great, Boris has cut the Gordian Knot.
“Churchill and Margaret Thatcher would have been deeply proud of his achievements, and so are we.
“This Bill for our future relationship with the EU provides a new exciting era for our trade with Europe and the rest of the world on sovereign terms, not those of the EU, as with the Chequers deal.”
Conservative chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat told the Commons that it is “time to end the constitutional Kama Sutra”.
He told MPs: “I am going to recognise the European Union has made an offer and we’ve accepted it.
“We’ve made one and they’ve accepted it and I am going to respect it. And that is why I’m going to vote with the Government today.
“Now after years of acrimony and anger, I think it is time to end the constitutional Kama Sutra that has left us all bruised, exhausted and distracted from our families, from our friends, from our community. It is time to move on.”