Amber Rudd: Early election provides opportunity for ‘potential compromises’ with the EU over Brexit
Holding an early election provides Theresa May the opportunity to arrive at “potential compromises” with the European Union during Brexit talks, a senior Cabinet minister has said.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd suggested that the Prime Minister’s negotiating position would be strengthened by increasing her majority in the Commons, and reducing the risk of rebellion from her own backbenchers.
Ms Rudd’s remarks suggest that the Government is aiming to reach a so-called “softer Brexit” in talks with EU officials, likely to be opposed by the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party who could vote down elements of the deal.
“There are many people trying to rationalise what happened today, which did come as a surprise to many of us,” she told BBC Newsnight.
“I can’t give you a yes or no to that answer, because people are throwing up all sorts of different theories about it.
“But what I can say is it certainly gives her an opportunity if she gets what we hope she’ll get, but we’re not complacent – a good majority – the opportunity to arrive at potential compromises within the EU, potential lines that she can set.
“But there will still be plenty of opportunity to debate this within the House of Commons.”
When asked whether this signalled the Government was pursuing a softer Brexit, Ms Rudd replied: “I think you’re jumping too far on that, because I just don’t think we know yet what sort of Brexit we’re going to end up with because the negotiations haven’t started.”
It comes after the Prime Minister held talks with senior EU figures yesterday including Angela Merkel, EU Council President Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
She also spoke to US President Donald Tusk and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Three separate polls in under a week have put the Conservatives 21 points clear of Labour, while Mrs May only enjoy a narrow double-digit majority in the House of Commons at present.
Speaking outside Downing Street yesterday morning, Mrs May said anti-Brexit MPs were “trying to stop us every step of the way”, which is making Brexit talks with the EU “harder”.
“When I became Prime Minister, I thought the most important thing to do for the country was to have a period of stability,” she said after announcing her plans for an early election.
“But around that time of the invoking of Article 50, it became clear the extent to which there was political game playing and division in Westminster, which would have made it harder for us in negotiating with Europe.
“We want the best possible hand, we want the best possible negotiating position with the European Union.
“If you look at some of the things that were said, there is very clear potential for voting against the legislation to implement the leaving of the EU, and against the final deal – trying to stop us every step of the way.”