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Senior Tory MP suggests colleagues who failed to back Brexit deal should join other parties

3 min read

A senior Conservative MP has blasted colleagues who failed to support Theresa May’s Brexit deal and suggested that they should quit and join another party.

Charles Walker, who is vice chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers hit out at Tory hardliners who he said were to blame for Britain still being in the European Union.

The comments come as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party tops the polls for next month’s EU elections in a backlash from Leave voters angry at the Government’s failure to quit the bloc by the 29 March deadline.

The Prime Minister’s deal was rebuffed by the Commons on three occasions, each time by a narrower margin, prompting her to press for an extension until mid-April and then until 31 October.

Mr Walker said that the current “mess” is down to the 34 colleagues who "chose not to support the UK leaving the EU on the 29 March" the last time the deal came before the Commons.

The vast majority of the Tory rebels on that occasion were hardline eurosceptics, but some were Remain supporters pushing for another referendum.

Citing the party's disastrous local election results last week, when they lost more than 1,300 seats, he told Radio Four's 'World At One' programme: “If they voted with the Government we would have had a majority of 10, we would be left if we’d put our foot down on the accelerator by 12 April, and we would have had an entirely different set of local election results."

When asked if his party would be better off without those who failed to back the Prime Minister, Mr Walker responded: “If you just feel that the Conservative Party is no longer your natural home, you have to think are there other places that you would feel happier in politics.

“Three of my colleagues left to join Change UK, we are seeing other parties emerge, it might well be the case that some of my colleagues feel that some of those parties better reflect their political views…”

Elsewhere Mr Walker defended Mrs May's position ahead of a meeting between her and 1922 chair Graham Brady, where she is expected to be asked to lay out a firm timetable for standing down.

He said: "There are colleagues who have suggested the Prime Minister should go. The Prime Minister has said she wants to leave early in her premiership but she doesn’t want to leave this God almighty mess.

“I think there’s a blame displacement process going on within the Conservative Party at the moment, laying it all on her shoulders.

“We all need to take personal responsibility for the fact that we are still in the EU and we are in government. This idea that a new Prime Minister [will] all be sweetness and light is for the birds.

“The next Prime Minister, sooner rather than later, will have to make a decision on Brexit and what happens when that 34 decide they don't like that decision? We're right back to square one.”

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