Former Cabinet minister hints she could quit Tories if Jacob Rees-Mogg became leader

Posted On: 
6th February 2018

Justine Greening has said it could be a “bit of a stretch” for her to remain in the Conservative party if arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg became leader.

Justine Greening's comments follow those of Anna Soubry

The former Education Secretary’s intervention follows Anna Soubry’s call last night for Theresa May to “sling out” hardcore eurosceptics, such as the North East Somerset MP and Boris Johnson, from the party.

The pro-European backbencher claimed a group of 35 Brexiteers were holding the Prime Minister to ransom and threatened to quit the party if it was taken over by those she dubbed "not proper Conservatives”.

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Ms Greening, who left her post last month, suggested she too could find it difficult to remain in the party if Mr Rees-Mogg – who is among the favourites to succeed Mrs May – won the leadership.

“That might be a bit of a stretch admittedly, but I think what matters to me probably in any of those circumstances, is what my own community thinks and who they feel is right, but we have a Prime Minister”, she told the BBC’s Daily Politics.

However, the Putney MP insisted that she did not agree with Ms Soubry's call to expel the hard Brexiteers from the party.

“I think it’s a broad church… I think there’s room for everyone in our party," she said.

“I think we need to respect the very different opinions people have on Brexit. There are different opinions because this is a hugely important issue for our country…

“I do think it’s a debate that has to be tempered with some reasonableness on all sides concerned.”

Her Tory colleague and vocal Brexit supporter Peter Bone, who denied being part of any group undermining the Prime Minister, said it was wrong for Tory MPs to be attacking each other.

“Anna is entitled to say what she likes, I think she was having a fairly bad day,” he told the same programme.

“One of the problems in politics at the moment, is there’s too much personal abuse.

“Probably Justine and certainly myself, we’ve all had death threats and all sorts of things, so for colleagues to attack other colleagues isn’t helpful, but I would defend her right to say whatever she wants to on Brexit.”

Ms Greening added that she did not think Ms Soubry would quit the party.

She said: “I’m absolutely sure she will remain part of our Conservative party, I certainly hope so.”