Pro-EU Tory MP to PM: “sling out” Brexiteers
Rifts within the Tory party continue to escalate this week, with no sign of subsidence. Anna Soubry, a leading pro-EU Conservative MP has threatened Theresa May with her resignation if she doesn’t “sling out” the most hardline Brexiteers from the party.
The former business secretary claimed that May would suffer the same fate as David Cameron and John Major if she didn’t stand up to the likes of Brexit hardliners such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, with Soubry labelling them as “not proper Conservatives.”
Speaking on BBC2’s Newsnight on Monday evening, Soubry affirmed that “if it comes to it, I am not going to stay in a party which has been taken over by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. And if that means leaving the party, form a new alliance, God knows, I don’t know. But we simply cannot go on like this any longer.”
“Something is going to have to give because if it doesn’t, not only will we get Jacob Rees-Mogg as our prime minister, we will get a devastating hard Brexit which will cause huge damage to our economy for generations to come,” she continued.
Soubry went on to caution the prime minister by telling Newsnight, “unless Theresa stands up and sees off these people she is in real danger of losing huge swathes of not just the parliamentary party but the Conservative Party.”
The former business secretary called for a re-evaluation of what the Conservative Party represents, stating: “Labour’s frontbench itself is ideological. My frontbench probably isn’t, but it is in hock to 35 hard ideological Brexiteers who are not Tories.”
“They are not the Tory party I joined 40 years ago,” she added, “and it is about time Theresa stood up to them and slung ‘em out. They have taken down Major, they took down Cameron, two great leaders neither of whom stood up to them.”
“We have to get a Conservative party which is what it has been for decades, the party I joined 40 years ago – proper, One Nation, centrist, small ‘l’ socially liberal, fiscally sensible, economically sound Conservatives.”
Understandably, Anna Soubry was criticised for her comments on the late-night BBC show. Staunch Leave campaigner, Lord Lamont told the BBC, “I think it is quite ridiculous, frankly. I don’t want to be rude about Anna Soubry, but I think she does sometimes tend to go over the top.”
Today, Tuesday, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon validated Soubry’s comments. On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, the first minister was on to talk about the centenary of women’s suffrage, however she used this opportunity to respond to the government’s decision to “categorically” rule out the UK staying in the EU customs union after Brexit. She said: “We’re seeing the government yet again put the interests of the Conservative party ahead of the interests of the country. It is overwhelmingly in my view in the interests of the country, our economy, to remain within the customs union and the single market. It’s a real frustration there hasn’t been more discussion and engagement not just with the Scottish Government but all of the devolved administrations.”
Theresa May’s “war cabinet” is due to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to resume discussions on the “end state” relationship that the UK will pursue with its former EU partners.