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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

UK leaders dubbed ‘Tandoori traitors’ in ‘Brexit curry house plot’

House of Commons speaker John Bercow and veteran Conservative MP Ken Clarke have been dubbed ‘Tandoori traitors’ for meeting in an Indian restaurant and discussing a ‘plot’ to remain in the European Union.

world Updated: Feb 10, 2019 21:01 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Speaker of the House John Bercow speaks during a confidence vote debate after Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, in London.
Speaker of the House John Bercow speaks during a confidence vote debate after Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, in London. (REUTERS)
         

Two leading lights in the Brexit debate – House of Commons speaker John Bercow and veteran Conservative MP Ken Clarke – have been dubbed ‘Tandoori traitors’ for meeting in an Indian restaurant and discussing a ‘plot’ to remain in the European Union.

Clarke, MP from Rushcliffe and currently the ‘father of the house’, is a known Remainer, while the fiercely independent Bercow is accused by critics of being a closet Remainer after his recent decisions in the House were seen to go against the Theresa May government.

The two reportedly met in the ‘Kennington Tandoori’, a restaurant in central London last week, when Bercow, according to the Sunday Express, asked Clarke: “Where do we go from here?” They ordered ‘poppadums, naan bread, lamb curry and beer’, and discussed Brexit.

The tabloid splashed the story with the headline: “Bercow in ‘Brexit curry house plot’ with Remainer Clarke’, prompting criticism from fervent Brexiteers such as Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who dubbed the two ‘Tandoori traitors’.

Key Brexit-related votes and debates are due in the House of Commons in the coming days and weeks as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the EU on March 29. May has promised changes to the withdrawal agreement that will be again put to the vote.

Bridgen, a known critic of Bercow, told the tabloid: “The Poppadum Plot is part of the Remainer elites trying to overturn the democratic will of the British people. It appears that the Speaker is conspiring with Remainer MPs to stop Brexit and subvert democracy.”

Also Read: The consequences of an irresponsible Brexit deal, by Mark Tully

“The Speaker must be removed immediately before he can do any more damage to the reputation of Parliament,” he added.

The tabloid quoted an unnamed member of May’s cabinet and a ruling party MP, questioning Bercow’s impartiality and inclinations in the Brexit divide.

This is not the only occasion when Indian food or restaurants have figured in the Brexit debate. The industry has been struggling in recent years due to tight immigration rules that make it difficult to recruit chefs from the Indian sub-continent, prompting many restaurants to close.

Brexiteer Priti Patel, who was a cabinet minister during the 2016 EU referendum, had promised easing of rules to enable hiring of chefs after Brexit. But Indian restaurant industry bodies have expressed disappointment that no such relaxation is on the cards.

First Published: Feb 10, 2019 20:59 IST