Theresa May warns her successor they must 'compromise' to avoid a no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
17th July 2019

Theresa May has warned her successor in Number 10 that they will have to "compromise" on their Brexit position if they want to avoid a no-deal departure.

Theresa May has said the next PM must compromise to get Brexit done.
PA Images

The outgoing Prime Minister said "whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long-term", an apparent rejection of leaving without a deal.

Boris Johnson has insisted that the UK must leave "do or die" on 31 October, while both he and Jeremy Hunt have insisted the Irish backstop must be ditched for any deal to be done - a move ruled out by Brussels.

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In her last major speech before she leaves Number 10 next Wednesday, Mrs May hit out at those who take "absolutist" positions as she bemoaned the polarisation of politics around the world.

The Prime Minister said she had "no bigger regret" than her failure to persuade the Commons to back her Brexit deal.

"But whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long-term – so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together," she said.

"That has to mean some kind of compromise. Some argue I should have taken the United Kingdom out of the European Union with no deal on 29 March. Some wanted a purer version of Brexit. Others to find a way of stopping it altogether.

"But most people across our country had a preference for getting it done with a deal. And I believe the strength of the deal I negotiated was that it delivered on the vote of the referendum to leave the European Union, while also responding to the concerns of those who had voted to remain.

"The problem was that when it came time for Parliament to ratify the deal, our politics retreated back into its binary pre-referendum positions – a winner takes all approach to leaving or remaining.

"And when opinions have become polarised – and driven by ideology - it becomes incredibly hard for a compromise to become a rallying point."

The Prime Minister also made clear her frustration that even promising to quit her job had not been enough to get Brexit over the line.

"I was told if I stand down, the votes would come," she said. "They didn’t come. That’s politics."