Tory former minister Anna Soubry warns she could quit party over hard Brexit
Former minister Anna Soubry has become the highest profile Conservative to say she could join a new party over the Government’s stance on Brexit.
In an article for the Mail on Sunday, Ms Soubry said it was “not impossible” that she would jump ship – though she added that she was not currently ready to do so.
The staunchly pro-European backbencher said she would be betraying her principles if she “did not make it clear that country must always come before party” and feared a Tory split was on the cards.
“I am proud of my loyalty to my party and my country,” she wrote in the Mail on Sunday
“People have asked me two questions, if the worst happened and we staggered recklessly towards a ‘Hard Brexit’ that would destroy the lives and livelihoods of my constituents: Could I ever see myself joining with like-minded people who want to save our country from such an appalling fate? And has that moment arrived yet?
“The answer to the first question is ‘it is not impossible’; the answer to the second is ‘no’.
“But I would be betraying my principles if I did not make it clear that country must always come before party.”
Ms Soubry, who has been consistently critical of a hard-line approach to Brexit added that “the wise owls should be ruling the roost”, calling on moderate ministers such as Philip Hammond to be shaping the country’s post-Brexit future.
“Mrs May must waste no time in taking on the ‘Hard Brexiteers’ and making it clear that she sides with responsible Cabinet Ministers – such as Chancellor Philip Hammond – who appreciate that we need a sensible Brexit transition period to avoid plunging this country headlong into an economic nightmare,” she added.
“But if the Prime Minister or her successor (in the event of Theresa standing down) is not prepared to confront the ideologues, I gravely fear that the party could split – and that would change Britain’s political landscape completely.”
The backbencher also called on the Tory leadership to be more tolerant of other views within the party.
“We will soon have a better idea of what type of Brexit we are heading for. Mrs May must be careful not to steer the country or the party in the wrong direction. She must take both with her.
“That means Tory party managers must not issue wild threats against any Conservative who expresses an opinion contrary to the views of those who would seek a ruinous ‘Hard Brexit’.
“Treating people like me as the ‘enemy within’, as opposed to patriots with a legitimate and well-considered view shared by millions of voters, will achieve nothing.”