U.K. Conservative Party’s Splits Wide as Ever: Brexit Update

Robert Hutton
1 / 2
U.K. Conservative Party’s Splits Wide as Ever: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit on Twitter, join our Facebook group and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin.

Parliament has gone into recess, but there’s little sign that the warring wings of the Conservative Party, which are split by Brexit, are using the break to make peace.

Key Developments:

Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington sees common ground with the Labour PartyFormer Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith urges Theresa May to take the U.K. out of the European Union with or without a deal and then quit as prime ministerEnergy Minister Claire Perry says May’s deal is a good one, and the U.K. could still leave the EU quickly, if parliament would vote for itLabour Transport spokesman Andy McDonald says his party needs guarantees that the next Tory leader won’t try to undo May’s promises

Lidington Sees Common Ground for Labour and Tories (11 a.m.)

May’s de facto deputy David Lidington, who is leading the government’s negotiations with the Labour Party, told the BBC that there’s plenty in terms of overall objectives that the two parties agree on. Neither wants trade barriers with the EU, he said. Asked if the government could accept a customs union, he said he believed it would be possible to get the benefits of one without giving up the ability to negotiate trade deals elsewhere. And he said Labour concerns about May’s successor were overdone, because whoever the next prime minister was, they would face the same arithmetic in Parliament.

Tory Splits as Wide as Ever (10 a.m.)

With polls suggesting that the Conservative Party will get a drubbing in next month’s local and European elections, Tory members of parliament have set out what should happen to solve the problems. Former leader Iain Duncan Smith told Sky News the problem is that the U.K. hasn’t left the EU. Energy Minister Claire Perry replied that the problem was that Tory MPs -- including many of Duncan Smith’s colleagues in the pro-Brexit European Research Group -- won’t vote for the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

Duncan Smith said May should “aim everything” towards getting the U.K. out of the EU before the European elections on May 23. This, he said, “would then allow her to step away having done what she said she would do, getting the U.K. out of the European Union one way or the other and then we can have another leadership election and pick a new leader, which is the way it has to be.”

Perry said Brexit could still happen quickly, but only if MPs shifted position. “We have to face the world as we find it, not as we would want to see it,” she said.

Labour’s Andy McDonald, meanwhile, told the show that his party was working to find a solution with the government, but needed any agreement to be written in such a way that May’s successor can’t unpick it. That, he said, would allow the country to move “onto the next stage of this long and awful process.”

Further Reading:

Talks, Votes, Elections and Referendums: Where Next for BrexitHammond Says U.K.’s May Won’t Quit Until Brexit Is Delivered

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Paul Jarvis

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.