Theresa May’s election disaster could lead to a softer Brexit as senior Tories call for ‘compromise’ – The Sun
THERESA MAY’S hard Brexit is under threat after Tory rebels vowed to maintain closer links between Britain and the EU in the wake of the disastrous election result.
At least six senior Conservatives have openly called for a rethink in the PM’s approach to Brexit talks – demanding that Labour and other parties should have a say in the final deal.
Ruth Davidson has led calls for a softer form of Brexit
And with Mrs May’s majority cut to 12 even with the DUP, she cannot afford to alienate even a small handful of pro-EU backbenchers.
The Tory manifesto vowed to withdraw Britain from the single market and the customs union, so that we can end free immigration and quit the EU court.
But Labour has not signed up to that approach, raising the prospect that cross-country talks could lead to a softer form of Brexit which might anger many Leave voters.
Theresa May’s negotiating strategy is now in serious trouble
Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson – one of the party’s biggest stars after swiping 12 seats from the SNP – yesterday led the charge against a hard Brexit as she spoke alongside her MPs.
She said: “I want to ensure that we can look again at issues like Brexit which we know we are now going to have to get cross-party support for.
“And move to a consensus within the country about what it means and what we seek to achieve as we leave.”
Ms Davidson vowed to put “free trade” at the heart of the Brexit deal – implying that Britain could stay in the single market to secure access to other EU countries.
Former minister Anna Soubry, who is fiercely pro-EU, insisted this morning that the PM must “absolutely” water down her Brexit plans.
Ex-minister Anna Soubry is another vocal pro-EU campaigner in the Tories
She told BBC1’s Sunday Politics: “The country did not vote for a hard Brexit.
“I’ve listened to a lot of people and the idea of a hard Brexit, the idea that no deal was better than a bad deal – people did not like that.”
Nicky Morgan, another Tory who was sacked by Mrs May, said the Government must “build a consensus across the Commons” – adding that the PM should “compromise” on the Brexit plans she has already laid out.
She wrote in the Observer: “The decision to turn our back on the single market without exploring some form of alternative is raised too regularly to be ignored any more.”
Ex-minister Alistair Burt told the same newspaper: “The new composition of the Commons knocks on the head the idea that the negotiations should be solely in the hands of the Conservative party.”
Yvette Cooper suggested a cross-party commission to oversee Brexit talks
Exit talks with the EU are scheduled to start a week tomorrow, but have now been thrown into chaos after the Tories’ shock failure to secure a majority.
Anti-Brexit Conservative veterans outside the Commons today joined the calls for Mrs May to compromise on Brexit.
Michael Heseltine said that “self-evidently” MPs and peers would oppose the Government’s plans for negotiations.
Former Chancellor George Osborne added: “I don’t think there is a majority now in the House of Commons for hard Brexit.
“If the Ruth Davidsons of this world are starting to flex their muscles, in my view that can only be a good thing.”
George Osborne has added to calls for a soft Brexit
Yvette Cooper, one of Labour’s leading moderate MPs, joined calls for a cross-party commission to oversee the progress of Brexit talks and set Britain’s priorities for a deal.
She told the Observer: “In a hung parliament, you can’t possibly try to run the Brexit negotiations through a Theresa May-led Tory cabal. The whole thing will just fall apart.”
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon did not rule out working with Labour over Brexit – and suggested that single market access would be one of the Government’s key priorities.
He told BBC presenter Andrew Marr: “It is very, very important that we are careful about the existing trade we do with Europe, about access to the single market in whatever new arrangement that we come to.
“It is also important that we don’t lose the co-operation between our intelligence services, between our police forces, the security co-operation we have with Europe.”
Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed calls for Britain to stay in the single market
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell this morning dismissed the suggestion that Britain could stay a member of the single market as they pledged to push for a “jobs-first Brexit”.
EU leaders have repeatedly said that the UK can only stay in the single market if we continue to accept the free movement of people across Europe, which would stop the Government setting its own immigration policy.
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However, it may be possible to negotiate access to the single market with a trade deal which does not involve signing up to EU laws as we do now.
Mrs May is hoping to strike a deal with the DUP so she can stay in power, with talks due to take place on Tuesday.
The Northern Irish party is pro-Brexit, but strongly opposes a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.