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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Pressure mounts on Theresa May over Brexit

Irrespective of the outcome of the ongoing Supreme Court hearing and whatever the phrase 'red, white and blue Brexit' means, it seems that Theresa May will be forced to offer up more than enigmatic but meaningless sound-bites before she can invoke Article 50 and take us out of the EU.

The Guardian reports that Tory backbenchers have now joined in demands for more meat on the Brexit bone before being asked to vote for us to start negotiations.

They say that May's backbench MPs will demand today that the plan produced by the government before it triggers article 50 is a detailed policy document that fully outlines the type of relationship Britain will seek with the EU. These MPs, want a so-called “soft Brexit” in which close economic ties are maintained, and are arguing that ministers ought to publish no less than an official pre-legislative white paper:

Among those who are likely to call for a more detailed white paper are Neil Carmichael and Anna Soubry, who both said they would now back the government amendment, but wanted it to be taken seriously. “It is a victory for us because the government is now committed to producing a plan,” said Carmichael, the MP for Stroud. “The question is what it looks like.”

He argued that support for “soft Brexit is gaining ground” among Tory MPs, but also in the language being heard from the secretary of state for exiting the EU, David Davis. Carmichael said he had always supported the principle of article 50, but wanted a serious pre-legislative document to understand the government’s direction.

Soubry agreed, suggesting that the “vast majority” of Tory remain voters had accepted the referendum outcome but wanted a serious conversation about what came next and how to unite the country. “If there is any messing around, or silly politics, that will backfire,” she said of the suggestion that the government would produce the absolute minimum. “When the crunch comes, and the hardline Brexiteers put the needs of their ideology in front of the needs of constituents and the country, [May] will need us.”

She called on the prime minister to take this seriously. “It is bigger than egos, ideology and playing silly games. This is serious, grown-up stuff. That would mean a white paper for me, or at least a serious document.”

Another pro-remain Tory suggested there would be “hell to pay” if the government failed to make good on its promise of publishing a serious plan.

This is an encouraging sign that the Government are starting to take concerns about Brexit seriously. It falls far short of what is really needed however, a vote by the British people on whether to accept the final agreed terms of Brexit or not.
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