‘Wrecked Brexit will stir the right’
Brextiteer transport secretary warns of danger of extremism while Tory donors now believe UK will stay in EU
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. |
Firemen rescue people who were trapped in a building by an explosion in a bakery shop in the 9th District in Paris yesterday. |