EXCL Top Tory MP says colleagues who refuse to accept Brexit should quit party
A senior Tory MP has said colleagues who refuse to accept the vote for Brexit should quit the party.
Nigel Evans, who serves on the executive of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Conservatives, said those who could not “reconcile themselves” to Brexit should consider their allegiances.
Three MPs - Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston - have already quit the party in protest at its approach to Brexit and what they described as a right-wing takeover.
A number of other prominent Tory MPs have backed the People's Vote campaign for a second EU referendum.
Pro-Brexit MP Mr Evans said any remaining Tories who refuse to accept Brexit should follow the three defectors out as a way to heal the deep splits in the party over Europe.
“If Europe is the most important issue for them and they cannot reconcile themselves to leaving the EU and delivering on our 2017 manifesto commitment then they should consider whether the Conservative party is the right home for them,” he told PoliticsHome.
But pro-second referendum Tory MEP Sajjad Karim hit back, saying: "Democracy is a process not an event."
He added: "Whilst Parliament is deadlocked then an alternative way forward must be identified by Parliament.
"A number of democratic exercises have taken place since the submission of our departure notice.
"More are needed, and a further referendum is clearly a viable proposition which - if accepted by Parliament - adds to the continuation of democracy towards an ultimate resolution."
Senior backbenchers Jo Johnson, Philip Lee, Dominic Grieve, Justine Greening and Guto Bebb have all called for a second EU referendum and have never voted for the Brexit deal Theresa May brought back from Brussels.
Mr Grieve lost a vote of no confidence by Conservative members in his local Beaconsfield association in March, while Mr Lee will face one at the beginning of June. Mr Johnson won a vote of no confidence in March.
Ms Allen, Ms Soubry and Ms Wollaston joined a number of Labour MPs who quit their party to join Change UK - which is currently tanking in the polls.
Elsewhere, a pro-Brexit MP told PoliticsHome a joint pact between Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd for the Conservative leadership would be “toxic” - as the Work and Pensions secretary is seen as too pro-Remain.
It comes after Ms Rudd liked a tweet from Mr Johnson, in which he promised he could stand up for the One Nation Conservative values she and colleagues have put forward as a test to leadership hopefuls.