Theresa May should free her “inner Remainer” and turn away from the “Brextremists” to the silent opponents of a hard Brexit, a cross-part y group of MPs have declared.
Conservative MP and former government minister Nicky Morgan said “there are absolutely members of the government who very much want a deal who were staunch Remain campaigners”. Asked if she would stand as a Conservative MP at the next election, she merely answered that the questions for future elections were “several years hence”.
Morgan, who was sacked by May and has emerged as one of her most outspoken Tory critics, was speaking at the launch of Open Britain’s accountability tests for the Brexit negotiations. Article 50 will be triggered on Wednesday 29 March.
Chris Leslie, a Labour MP and former shadow Chancellor, said there were large numbers of parliamentarians “who are willing to be constructive, to go beyond party political lines and do the best deal for the country”.
Former Lib Dem leader and onetime deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg praised a “very good speech” by the Prime Minister before the Brexit vote, in which she reflected on the limits of sovereignty and made the case for remaining in the EU.
He said: “Either she didn’t believe a word she said or there is an inner Remainer struggling within her soul to come out.”
The MPs also warned against the rhetoric of former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who has repeatedly argued that “no Brexit deal is better than a bad deal”, arguing that this would be chaotic and exploited by ideologues.
Clegg, who was an MEP before he became an MP, said EU negotiators were alert to the threat that the UK would try to turn itself into a “low taxation, low welfare dumping ground”.
He said: “A German leader can’t go to German voters, a Spanish leader can’t go to Spanish voters, and say: ‘We are giving the UK extensive access to our markets to compete with our jobs but at the same time they are going to be like Switzerland on stilts.’”
Referring to Brexit secretary David Davis’ admission that immigration may continue to rise after Brexit, Clegg said the Leave campaign had promised lower immigration and access to the single market. Instead: “The government we know now is going to deliver exactly the opposite.”