Remainer MP Uses Paddy Ashdown Death to Push Anti-Brexit Message

British politicians, Labour Party MP Chuka Umunna (C), Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran (L) and Green MP Caroline Lucas (R) pose in front of an advertising board to launch the Peoples Vote advertising campaign in central London on April 15, 2018 calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. …
BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran used the passing of her former party leader Paddy Ashdown as an opportunity to make an anti-Brexit point.

At the first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons following the Christmas break, Ms Moran said, “I’d also like to add my own sadness at the passing of Paddy and in his final weeks, he was very concerned by the way that Brexit would play into Britain’s place in the world.”

Following her comment, Brexiteer Tory MP Andrew Bridgen remarked “from the grave!” with some MPs responding “shame!”

“Brexit, for example, is clearly in Russia’s geopolitical interest. It was chilling to hear Vladimir Putin parroting exactly the words of the Prime Minister on why we should not hold a referendum but instead ‘fulfil the will of the people’,” she continued.

“Meanwhile, poll after poll shows there is a majority for a referendum, because people can see that the Prime Minister’s flailing deal is not in our national interest,” she claimed.

“So whose side is this Prime Minister on: Putin’s or the people’s?”

Lord Ashdown, a Remain-supporting politician and former diplomat, died in December 2018 after succumbing to bladder cancer.

After PMQs, Ms Moran, pictured above left with fellow Remainer MPs Chuka Umunna and Caroline Lucas, raised a point of order on Mr Bridgen’s comment, saying, “During my question at the beginning where I was expressing my sadness at the loss of Lord Ashdown and his concern for the state of where we are now, the Member for North-West Leicestershire shouted loudly from a sedentary position ‘from the grave’.

“I find such a comment disgraceful.”

“I would like to ask guidance from you Mr Speaker on how for example he might want to retract such a statement and also if this is becoming of the sort of conduct we should expect from members of this house,” she added.

The Speaker responded, “I did hear those words, I did not hear a particular member, I did not see someone mouth those words, but I did hear those words.

“What I want to say to the Honourable Lady is that I think it was most unfortunate that that was said.

“People do sometimes say things instinctively and irrationally but it was most unfortunate.

“The Honourable Lady was perfectly properly paying tribute to an extremely distinguished former member of this House.

“What was said should not have been said. If the person who has said it wishes to take the opportunity to apologise, it is open to that person to do so.”

Mr Bridgen rose to say, “Mr Speaker, I will apologise for my remarks if any offence was caused to any members of the House.”

While some social media users have condemned the Brexiteer’s comment, others have criticised Ms Moran for using a time meant for honouring the senior politician to give a partisan message, with one writing, “Layla Moran at #PMQs using Paddy Ashdown’s death to make a cheap point about a #PeoplesVote and also taking the opportunity to shout Putin a few times.”

Another called it “distasteful” the MP “nakedly weaponising Lord Ashdown’s death. Ed Davey was respectful. Why couldn’t she be?”

While another said, “Who is Layla Moran to speak for Paddy Ashdown from beyond the grave, just as Bridgen was highlighting?! She does not represent the liberal & democratic values of the Lib Dems that Paddy Ashdown led, which resulted in so many wins in the South West.”

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