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'I hope I don't follow the fate of Michael Collins': Veteran Tory MP namechecks Irish leader in Commons debate

MP Owen Paterson quoted Collins’ speech during the December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty debates in the Dáil.

IRISH REVOLUTIONARY LEADER Michael Collins was namechecked in the House of Commons this evening by a veteran Tory MP making the case for Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal bill. 

Following on from Charles Stewart Parnell’s namedrop last month by Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP Owen Paterson referenced Collins - Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State who was killed in an ambush at Beal na Blath in Cork in 1922 – in making the case for Johnson’s deal. 

“Touching on Ireland, it’s worth looking at the example of the Republic of Ireland which emerged from the Irish Free State,” said Paterson, who was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland form 2010 to 2012. 

“Michael Collins in Dáil Eireann on 19 December 1921 said something that pretty reflects my views this evening,” said Paterson before quoting Collins directly. 

“Now as one of the signatories of the document I naturally recommend its acceptance,” said Collins of the Treaty signed in 1921. 

“Equally I do not recommend it for less than it is. In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire and develop to, but the freedom to achieve it,” he said.

Two crucial votes this evening will determine whether Johnson will be able to live up to his “do or die” commitment to take the UK out of the European Union by the 31 October deadline.

MPs will cast their initial vote on the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) before being asked to back his accelerated timetable to hurry the legislation through Parliament.

But the PM told the Commons that he would “in no way allow months more of this” as he called on MPs to work “night and day” to scrutinise his plans and avoid a no-deal departure.

“If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen, and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this,” he said.

And with great regret I must say that the Bill will have to be pulled and we will have to go forward to a general election.

Johnson has threatened to pull his Brexit deal and call for an early general election if MPs do not vote for his plans as he kicked off a Commons showdown.

It’s the second time in as many months that a Tory MP has referenced an Irish leader during debates on Brexit.

In September, Leader of the House Mogg, while criticising the Benn bill, said that MPs “risk subverting Parliament’s proper role in scrutinising the executive” and made reference to Charles Stewart Parnell. 

Said Rees-Mogg: “The approach taken today is the most unconstitutional use of this house since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell when he tried to bung up Parliament.”

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