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WATCH David Cameron's former spin doctor condemns Theresa May's Brexit strategy

3 min read

David Cameron's former top spin doctor has launched a furious attack on the Government's approach to Brexit - and warned it could turn into "a walk in the cemetery".

Sir Craig Oliver accused the Prime Minister of "putting red lines ahead of realism" in the Government's negotiations with Brussels, and warned that the UK economy will suffer as a result.

He also claimed International Development Secretary Liam Fox is "struggling" to come up with deals with non-EU countries which will make up for the losses from leaving the single market.

Appearing on Question Time, Sir Craig - who was Mr Cameron's communications chief until the former Prime Minister quit in the wake of the Brexit vote - said: "I accept the result of the referendum and I also accept that we are going to leave the EU.

"But what I don't accept is that we need to have an ideological, hardline Brexit. It's a real worry for this country and I worry that the Government is putting red lines ahead of realism, and it's putting principle ahead of practical necessity.

"I was talking to somebody in the Cabinet yesterday and they told me that Liam Fox is struggling to come up with any evidence that he will do international trade deals that will in any way balance out leaving the single market and the customs union."

Sir Craig said former Tory chairman Lord Patten had said the party's election campaign had turned into "a walk in the cemetery" and added: "Let's make sure we don't make the same mistake on Brexit."

Watch his comments in full here:

His stance echoes that of James Chapman, George Osborne's former director of communications and ex-chief of staff to David Davis, who said last week that Mrs May's "absolutist" position was making it harder for the UK to get a good Brexit deal.

Mr Chapman said: "I’m thinking of The European Court of Justice. She’s set a red line effectively for a conference speech that hamstrung these negotiations in my view.

"In David Davis, there isn’t anyone better to do this negotiation in parliament in my view. He’s a very tough, resilient operator. There have been red lines that have been set for him, that make the job he has to do very difficult."


Meanwhile, a major business lobby group has said the UK should remain in the European single market and customs union until a new Brexit deal comes into effect.

CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn said it was "impossible" to secure a new deal by the deadline of March 2019 and UK business needed a "bridge" rather than a "cliff edge".

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