Hard, Soft, Grey, Black, White….the shades of Brexit is changing like patterns in a kaleidoscope. Prime Minister Theresa May was urged to learn lessons from the Richmond Park by-election in which the Lib Dems over turn 23,000 lead through Brexit card
As the No 10 refused to give a running commentary on the Brexit talks, a group of senior Tory MPs urged the prime minister to abandon ‘UPIP-Litisng’ the Brexit process. They warned May of pursuing a “hard” Brexit could alienate core Conservative voters and cost the party the next general election.
Writing in the Observer newspaper, Mr Dominic Grieve, ex-attorney general, former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, ex-transport minister Claire Perry, education select committee chairman Neil Carmichael, and Bath MP Ben Howlett, said the Richmond Park result must serve as a wake-up call for the party.
“The Conservative Party needs to be alert that there is a moderate core of Conservative voters, who voted Remain, and who want to hear the Conservative government speaking above the noise of the Brexiters,” the Tory MPs said.
“They do not want the Conservative party to be UKIP-lite, nor to hear that their desire for a negotiated Brexit, with all options open for the prime minister, is an attempt to delay the process or simply an expression of Remoaning.”
The Richmond Park result should be a reminder “that their votes have another destination if we don’t get this right,” they added.
They called for Downing Street to reveal its negotiating position on Brexit before triggering the formal exit process under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
“Such a move would ensure the government was not “pushed into a corner by those who only advocate a hard Brexit,” the MPs added.
The government is not yet revealed the strategy, but the Sunday Times in a report said Mrs May has given ministers the green light to draw up secret plans for a “grey Brexit” that would steer away from the demands of Leave and Remain hardliners.
The paper quoted Whitehall sources as saying that Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis had formed a “small clique” with No 10 to drive Britain away from a hard exit.
Mrs May has said she plans to trigger Article 50, which begins a two-year negotiation process before the UK leaves the EU, before the end of March 2017.
In another development Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer demanded more clarity from May over Brexit, the Observer reported. “Instead of providing certainty over the UK’s basic aims, the government has given mixed messages, veering from the extreme version of Brexit, suggested by the prime minister’s party conference speech, to the undefined version of Brexit, suggested by the Nissan deal, and David Davis’s comments that EU Budget contributions may continue post-Brexit,” he told the paper.
Labour’s former Europe spokesman, Pat McFadden, also told the Observer that it was time to address the concerns of working people who had voted Leave. “We’ve got to think on the scale of a Marshall plan to transform opportunities in working-class communities – giving a real answer, rather than someone to blame. Labour’s moments of victory – 1945, 1964 and 1997 – have all been when we seemed to understand the future and had a real plan for it that people could believe in.”