Brexit vote could force ma­jor split in Con­ser­va­tives

Rotorua Daily Post - - World - Bri­tain

The To­ries are on the brink of a his­toric split, se­nior Con­ser­va­tives warned, as Brex­i­teers and Re­main­ers both threat­ened to tor­pedo the British Gov­ern­ment if they don’t get their way.

Pro-EU MPs claimed a third of the Cab­i­net would re­sign if Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May pur­sues a no-deal Brexit in the face of al­most cer­tain de­feat over her deal, as they threat­ened a walk­out of back­benchers that would oblit­er­ate the Gov­ern­ment’s Com­mons ma­jor­ity.

At the same time, sev­eral se­nior min­is­ters are ag­i­tat­ing for May to open talks with Labour MPs about a com­pro­mise in­volv­ing a per­ma­nent cus­toms union if her deal falls by a no­table mar­gin on Wed­nes­day NZT.

One se­nior Tory said: “A grow­ing num­ber of the Cab­i­net now think the only fea­si­ble op­tion is to tack to­wards a softer Brexit in­volv­ing a per­ma­nent cus­toms union, in or­der to get a deal through with Labour votes. Am­ber [Rudd], David [Gauke], Greg Clark and Michael Gove have also made noises along those lines.”

Steve Baker, deputy chair­man of the Euro­pean Re­search Group of Euroscep­tics, warned that the move would risk a ma­jor split.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to see how at least some Con­ser­va­tive MPs would not with­draw con­fi­dence in the Gov­ern­ment.”

Sir Bernard Jenkin, a se­nior proLeave MP, said if May de­parted from the March 29 exit date or struck a deal with Labour for a softer Brexit, “I don’t know what hap­pens to the Con­ser­va­tive Party.”

The warn­ings un­der­score the po­ten­tial mag­ni­tude of the vote, amid grow­ing calls for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum or ex­ten­sion of Bri­tain’s EU mem­ber­ship be­yond March. One Tory MP said: “We’re head­ing to­wards a brick wall at 100mph and are go­ing to be smashed to smithereens.”

Sources said sev­eral Cab­i­net min­is­ters would lead a push for a softer Brexit that could draw the sup­port of Labour MPs, if May’s deal is de­feated by a sig­nif­i­cant mar­gin.

— Tele­graph Group Ltd

Theresa May

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.