May needs to listen to other parties on Brexit, says Cameron – The Guardian

May needs to listen to other parties on Brexit, says Cameron – The Guardian

David Cameron has said Theresa May will face pressure for a softer version of Brexit in the wake of losing her parliamentary majority, saying also she should consult more widely on the process.

Cameron’s intervention came a day after another former PM, Sir John Major, said the idea of a more robust Brexit was “increasingly unsustainable”. Separately, reports are suggesting the chancellor, Philip Hammond, will seek to keep the UK in the EU’s customs union.

The comments from Cameron, at a business conference in Poland, included a suggestion that May listen to other parties on the best way to depart from the EU.

“It’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but perhaps an opportunity to consult more widely with the other parties on how best we can achieve it,” he said, according to a report in the Financial Times.

“I think there will be pressure for a softer Brexit,” Cameron said, saying also that parliament “deserves a say” on how to manage the process.

Cameron, who stepped down as an MP shortly after quitting No 10 in the wake of the Brexit referendum, said the 13 new Scottish Tory MPs would help push for a softer Brexit, aided by the Scottish party leader, Ruth Davidson.

“There’s no doubt that there is a new player on the stage,” he said. “Scotland voted against Brexit. I think most of the Scottish Conservatives will want to see perhaps some changes with the policy going forward.”

Cameron’s comments follow those of Major, who told the BBC on Tuesday that he believed May’s loss of a majority would mean she would need to temper her Brexit plans.

Major also used the interview to warn against May’s planned informal coalition with the Democratic Unionists, saying this could potentially imperil the Northern Ireland peace process.

On Brexit, he said: “I think the concept of what we crudely call a hard Brexit is becoming increasingly unsustainable. The views of those who wish to stay in are going to have to be born in mind to a much greater extent after this election. A hard Brexit was not endorsed by the electorate in this particular election.”

On Wednesday, the Times reported that Hammond – who was expected to lose his post as chancellor before May’s authority was undermined by the election result – is pushing within government for the UK to remain in the customs union.

The paper cited one source as saying Hammond was in “street-fighting mode”, with another saying he would get support from Damian Green, the former pensions secretary, who is now May’s deputy.

In her Lancaster House speech in January that set out her Brexit plans, May had said the UK would leave the customs union, as well as the EU’s single market.

The interventions come after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said the door to the EU would remain open to Britain during Brexit negotiations, which will get under way next week.

Speaking in the gardens of the Élysée palace in Paris in a joint press conference with May, Macron made it clear that he respected the sovereign decision of the British people. However, he added: “Until negotiations come to an end there is always a chance to reopen the door.”

But Macron suggested that time was of the essence, saying: “As the negotiations go on it will be more and more difficult to go backwards.”

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