A Tory minister tonight accused the BBC of “fake news” for accurately quoting her.
Leaked messages last week showed Business Minister Claire Perry had posted to a private WhatsApp group of MPs, branding Brexiteers who accuse Remainers of being ‘traitors’ “swivel-eyed”.
Ms Perry released a statement admitting to having sent the message and apologised, saying she had “no excuses” and “passions were running high”.
But when they were brought up during last night’s episode of BBC Question Time, she denied having made them, saying: “No, I didn’t. No.”
She went on: “I do hate the way the BBC likes to do this fake news”
Asked what she said in the group, she claimed: “What I said…what I didn’t say is that anyone who voted Brexit was in any way to have their views discounted, because we went through the biggest democratic exercise this country’s ever seen.
“You know what? We said we’d respect the result of a referendum.
“We said we would deliver what the people wanted and the people voted for Brexit.”
Asked again about the quote, she falsely claimed: “Look, I did not do this.”
She added: “No, I said, in a private group – one of the problems with social media is that things leak – that’s a lesson for all of us.
“What I said is that I hate extremism in any form, and people who are shouting about my colleagues, all of whom swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen, and calling them quislings and traitors for expressing their views in parliament, I think that language is disgraceful.
“And I think the people who say that – and they’re not people who chose to leave the EU, these are extremist voices, and there are too many extremist voices on both sides of the debate.”
What she has previously admitted to saying in the group is: “The ‘sell out traitor mob’ should be ignored.
“Listening to them means wrecking the economy in the short term and via a Corbyn Government delivering a long steady slow decline for the country we love.
“And I would hypothesise that they are mostly elderly retired men who do not have mortgages, school-aged children or caring responsibilities so they represent the swivel-eyed few not the many we represent.”
In a statement after the comments were published, she said: “Passions were running high as we all worked to get the Brexit bill through and mine regrettably spilled over.
“No excuses but my comments were aimed squarely and exclusively at those calling my hard-working colleagues “traitors” – a shocking term to describe some of the best parliamentarians I know.”