Anna Soubry: Theresa May needs to 'get a grip' or face being destroyed by her own MPs

Posted On: 
31st January 2018

A former minister has called on Theresa May to "get a grip" and start providing some leadership on Brexit before she is destroyed by her own MPs.

Parliament TV

Anna Soubry said Tory Brexiteers were willing to bring down the Prime Minister in their desire for a clean break with the European Union.

The former defence minister spoke out as the Government was forced into a humiliating climbdown by vowing to publish leaked government analysis of how Brexit will affect the UK economy.

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Tory MPs were ordered not to vote against Labour's call for the documents to be released, despite insisting the information in them was incomplete and had not been signed off by ministers.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said the decision was "a victory for Parliament and for our country".

In a Commons debate on the issue, Ms Soubry - a high-profile supporter of Remain during the EU referendum - said the Government's failure to state what type of Brexit deal it wants was "madness".

She said: "I think there’s a group of people – the hard Brexiteers - and you aren’t going to change them. In my own party my government believes that somehow they can manage the hard Brexiteers who have been going on about Europe – in a way at times which I think is not particularly good for their mental health – for decades.

"They think they can manage them. You can’t manage them. If you gave them what they wanted today they would complain that you hadn’t done it yesterday.

"It’s a battle to the death as far of many of them are concerned and they will not hesitate to destroy our party, to destroy this Prime Minister, to get what they want. They can see the prize and they are damned if anybody is going to get in their way. The Government needs to wake up to that reality."

The Broxtowe MP added: "My real message today is to my government and to my Prime Minister: get a grip and let's start leading on this. See off those people who do not run this country, who do not represent Conservative voters and do not represent the people of this country. "

In a House of Lords debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill, Tory peer Lord Cormack said he feared that Brexit could lead to an "implosion" within his party.

It also emerged that justice minister Phillip Lee was hauled before Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith for suggesting the Government should reconsider going ahead with Brexit if analysis suggests it is not in "our country's best interests".

The latest row came amid mounting pressure on Mrs May's leadership. Speaking to reporters on a trip to China, the Prime Minister insisted she was "not a quitter" - but that only served to further anger frustrated Tory MPs.

One told PoliticsHome: "Why does she make stupid, delusional comments like this? It just makes more (no confidence) letters pile up and hastens the end."