‘Wrecked Brexit will stir the right’

Brex­ti­teer trans­port sec­re­tary warns of danger of ex­trem­ism while Tory donors now be­lieve UK will stay in EU

Sunday Tribune - - WORLD - Daily Mail

BRI­TAIN will wit­ness a surge in neonazi ex­trem­ist groups if MPS block or weaken Brexit, a cab­i­net min­is­ter warned yes­ter­day.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling said the 17 mil­lion who voted to leave the EU would feel “cheated” by any moves to water down Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s deal or thwart exit en­tirely. This would have grave im­pli­ca­tions for Bri­tain’s democ­racy, he said, end­ing cen­turies of mod­er­ate pol­i­tics.

His warn­ing came as a poll found the ma­jor­ity of Tory vot­ers now want MPS to back May’s Brexit deal – with 55% in favour, up eight points on last month, and 31% against, down seven. Labour sup­port for the deal has also risen by eight points to 30%, with 51% op­posed, six points down in the same pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to the Sur­va­tion sur­vey.

Over­all, the pub­lic is still against her deal by 41 points to 34, al­though the gap has more than halved.

Grayling said block­ing Brexit could end the 350 years of “mod­er­ate” pol­i­tics Bri­tain has en­joyed since the bloody English Civil War.

Do­ing so would pro­voke more “nasty” in­ci­dents such as this week’s “Nazi” taunts at pro-re­main Tory MP Anna Soubry out­side Par­lia­ment, he ar­gued.

It would also play into the hands of “dis­turb­ing” ex­trem­ists such as ex-english De­fence League leader Tommy Robin­son, who has been tipped to take over Ukip.

Brex­i­teer Grayling, one of May’s clos­est cab­i­net al­lies, also fired a warn­ing to fel­low Euroscep­tic Tories.

He said they would rue the day they join forces with pro-re­main Con­ser­va­tives and kill off May’s deal in Tues­day’s crunch Com­mons vote.

He told the Mail: “Peo­ple have to think long and hard about how they are go­ing to vote. This is too im­por­tant for po­lit­i­cal game-play­ing and I urge Con­ser­va­tive MPS who back Brexit and oth­ers to back the deal.

“If not, we risk a break with the Bri­tish tra­di­tion of mod­er­ate, main­stream pol­i­tics that goes back to the Restora­tion in 1660.

“MPS need to re­mem­ber that Bri­tain, its peo­ple and its tra­di­tions are the Mother of Par­lia­ments. We ig­nore that and the will of the peo­ple at our peril.”

Nearly 200000 peo­ple died in the English Civil War, which re­sulted in a short-lived repub­lic fol­lowed by the restora­tion of the monar­chy in 1660. Grayling’s re­marks came amid re­ports that May could lose next week’s vote by up to 200 votes.

But the trans­port sec­re­tary, who has known May for more than 20 years and led her suc­cess­ful Tory lead­er­ship cam­paign in 2016, praised her “Churchillian” re­silience.

He said: “Many peo­ple in his­tory even­tu­ally suc­ceeded just by keep­ing go­ing, not giv­ing up. ‘Keep bug­ger­ing on,’ as Churchill said. The pub­lic can see she is de­ter­mined and pas­sion­ate and do­ing her best for the coun­try.”

Grayling stopped short of pre­dict­ing ri­ots if Brexit is weak­ened or re­versed. But he added: “Peo­ple should not un­der­es­ti­mate this. We would see a dif­fer­ent tone in our pol­i­tics. A less tol­er­ant so­ci­ety, a more na­tion­al­is­tic na­tion.

“It will open the door to ex­trem­ist pop­ulist po­lit­i­cal forces in this coun­try of the kind we see in other coun­tries in Europe.

“If MPS who rep­re­sent seats that voted 70% to leave say: ‘Sorry guys, we’re still go­ing to have free­dom of move­ment’, they will turn against the po­lit­i­cal main­stream.”

The min­is­ter said re­ports that Robin­son could be­come Ukip’s next leader were “deeply dis­turb­ing”, say­ing he was just the kind of rab­ble-rouser who would use any at­tempt to stop Brexit to fan ex­trem­ism.

He sug­gested the abuse of Soubry by sup­port­ers of Robin­son in West­min­ster on Mon­day could be a taste of worse to come.

“There’s al­ready a nas­ti­ness and un­pleas­ant­ness in our pol­i­tics, more peo­ple with ex­treme views, more peo­ple will­ing to be­have in an un­civilised way,” he said.

Sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ger­many and Greece, have seen vi­o­lent protests by neo-nazi anti-im­mi­gra­tion par­ties. In re­cent weeks, France has seen a se­ries of ri­ots pro­voked by the “Yel­low Vest” move­ment, which has been hi­jacked by po­lit­i­cal ex­trem­ists.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, two of the big­gest donors to the Brexit cam­paign said on Fri­day they now be­lieve the project they cham­pi­oned will even­tu­ally be aban­doned by the gov­ern­ment and that the UK will stay in the EU.

Peter Har­g­reaves, the sec­ond big­gest donor to the 2016 “leave cam­paign”, and hedge fund man­ager Crispin Odey said they ex­pect Bri­tain to stay in the EU de­spite their cam­paign vic­tory in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum. |

REUTERS

Fire­men res­cue peo­ple who were trapped in a build­ing by an ex­plo­sion in a bak­ery shop in the 9th Dis­trict in Paris yes­ter­day. |

CHRIS GRAYLING

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