Two Cabinet ministers sympathetic to new party idea - ex-David Davis aide
Two serving Cabinet ministers are sympathetic about a plan to set up a new centrist political party in opposition to Brexit, according to the former Conservative aide who is driving the idea.
James Chapman, until recently the chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis, said Shadow Cabinet ministers had also expressed support for the proposal.
Mr Chapman predicted that the Tories would never again win a majority in Parliament as a result of their handling of the UK’s departure from the European Union, and urged senior figures uncomfortable with Brexit to speak out.
Since floating the idea of a new party on Twitter, Mr Chapman confirmed that senior current and former Conservative ministers had signalled their support – though he made clear they had not said they would jump ship.
“Yes, two people in the Cabinet now, a number of who have been in Conservative Cabinets before now – better cabinets, I might say, than the current one – and a number of Shadow Cabinet ministers have also been in touch,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
“They’re not saying that they’re going to quit their parties but they’re saying they understand that there’s an enormous gap now in the centre of British politics.”
Labour and the Conservatives, he said, had been “captured by their fringes” and he warned “paralysed” Tory MPs they could not expect to be in government if they see through current plans for Brexit.
“My view is that the Conservative party brand has now been damaged to such an extent that the party won’t be elected again and ever again get a majority,” Mr Chapman added.
“The hard Brexit plan that Mrs May is pursuing is going to take our economy off a cliff, it’s going to make Black Wednesday look like a picnic and when that happens the Conservative party will never be in power again.”
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose pro-Brexit views Mr Chapman said had “captured” the Tories, argued the putative name of the new party – ‘The Democrats’ – was at odds with the plan to keep the UK in the EU.
“Their proposed name ought to be the oligarchs, not the democrats,” he told Today.
Mr Chapman also said Mr Davis was opposed to the plan and confirmed his other former boss, George Osborne, was not driving the idea of a new party.
“Not at all. I haven’t spoken to George about this.”