Theresa May says her chief whip made honest mistake

Theresa May says her chief whip made honest mistake

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visits Belleek Pottery, in St Belleek, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Reuters file phtoo

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that her chief enforcer in parliament had made an honest mistake by breaking a so-called pairing agreement at a crucial vote and that he and the party's chairman had apologised.

Julian Smith, known as the government's chief whip, told some Conservative lawmakers to break a pairing arrangement with rival parties that ensures genuine absences do not skew votes in parliament.

Conservative Chairman Brandon Lewis followed the advice and voted with the government at a key Brexit vote on Tuesday even though his "pair", Liberal Democrat lawmaker Jo Swinson, was away as she had just given birth.

When asked by a reporter if she could be trusted, May said: "There was an honest mistake made for which the chief whip and indeed Brandon Lewis have both apologised to the member concerned."