Tory MPs call for 'government of national unity' to deliver Brexit amid Commons impasse

Posted On: 
18th July 2018

Two prominent Tory MPs have called for the party to join with moderate fiigures in other parties to form a “government of national unity” to deliver Brexit.

Tory Remain rebel Anna Soubry
Credit: 
PA Images

Former minister Anna Soubry blasted anti-EU Tory MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg who she said were “running the country" and urged centrist Labour backbenchers to join the fight. 

And Conservative grandee Sir Nicholas Soames said: “If I had my way we would have a national government to deal with this.”

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The explosive suggestion comes after fresh rows exploded this week between the Leave and Remain wings of the Conservative party as the Government battled to get key Brexit bills through the Commons.

Theresa May was accused of "caving in" to pro-Brexit Tory backbenchers by accepting a raft of changes to its Cross-Border Trade Bill on Monday - throwing her pro-EU MPs into a rage.

Yesterday she managed to see off an attempt by Remain rebels to add a backstop to the Trade Bill that could keep the UK in a customs union with the EU, but they defeated her on another vote about Europe-wide co-operation on medicines.

Ms Soubry said “we simply can’t go on like this” as she called on “eminently sensible” Labour backbenchers to get behind her proposal for a united front.

“I would reach beyond [the Labour frontbench] and I would encompass Plaid Cymru, the SNP and other sensible pragmatic people who believe in putting this country’s interests first and foremost,” she told the Today programme on Radio 4.

She added: “Your listeners should be angry that the liks of Jacob Rees-Mogg are running our country at this the most difficult of times since the second world war.”

'GRIPS OF THE EXTREMISTS'

The Broxtowe MP said the Tories and Labour were “in the grips of the extremists”, with too many MPs “frightened” of being deselected by their local parties.

And she added: “I think we need a government of national unity, actually.”

Sir Nicholas meanwhile told Channel 4 News last night: “I must say if I had my way we would have a national government to deal with this. It is the most serious problem this country has faced since the war.”

But pro-Brexit Tory MP Michael Fabricant swiftly rubbished the idea as a plot to stop the UK leaving the EU.

And one Remain-backing Labour MP told PolHome: “Tje Lib Dem's essentially did that with the Tories and look what happened to them.”

Last night MPs voted 307-301 against the proposal to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU if a deal has not been struck with the block by January.

It is understood that government whips had warned potential rebels that they could call a confidence vote in the Prime Minister - potentially leading to a general election - if the customs union amendment was passed.

Some 10 Tory MPs have quit government posts in protest since Mrs May published her Brexit white paper last month - including Cabinet Ministers Boris Johnson and David Davis.

Meanwhile, the number of no confidence letters required to trigger a fresh Tory leadership contest are said to be piling up on the desk of Graham Brady, chair of the powerful 1922 committee of Conservative MPs.