Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Liz Bates
23 July 2018
Brexit is ‘tearing us apart’: senior Tories question future of Theresa May's government

Brexit is ‘tearing us apart’: senior Tories question future of Theresa May's government

Dominic Grieve - Image credit: Faculty of Advocates

Brexit is “tearing us apart”, said one MP, as senior Tories, including a former prime minister and an ex-cabinet minister expressed their fears over the future of Theresa May’s government.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve accused hard Brexiteers of undermining the Prime Minister by suggesting they could side with Labour to trigger a vote of no confidence and a resulting general election.

He told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday: “The only group that could possibly bring the Prime Minister down is if a group of my hard Brexit colleagues so lose the plot that they decide that that is an effective way to proceed.

“Clearly if they decided to vote with Labour, which is what they were threatening to do this week apparently, then in those circumstances I’m sure Labour would simply wish to see the Government gone.

“The Government would fall because the Government would have a very small majority.

“The problem we have at the moment is that we have introduced an ideological issue into our party with Brexit, which is tearing us apart.”

This follows an equally downbeat intervention from former Prime Minister Sir John Major, who told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that if anti-EU MPs thwart Theresa May’s Brexit deal and opposition parties take “political advantage” then Britain could “stumble into” a general election.

Ardent Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries hit back at Major's comments with a warning to the Prime Minister that the public would not tolerate any backsliding on Brexit.       

She told the BBC's Sunday Politics: “It’s up to Theresa May what she does about that.

“If she wants to listen to the likes of John Major and not deliver on Brexit then we will also be led into political oblivion at the next general election.

“Theresa May will be walking down the same path as John Major. I don’t want that to happen.

“Many MPs know, particularly those who have smaller majorities, that if we dare try to hoodwink the British public any further and don’t deliver on that referendum vote we the Conservative party will be wiped out at the next general election."

But Brexiteer Owen Paterson later dismissed suggestions of a looming leadership challenge against May.

“We want her to deliver what the Conservative party was elected to do which was to leave the single market and to leave the customs union and to leave the remit of the ECJ,” he told Sky News.  

“Any distractions about leadership is a complete nonsense in my opinion.”   

This latest bout of infighting comes as the new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the UK Government was preparing for “any and every eventuality” if the UK ends up crashing of the EU without a deal.

But he dismissed claims that food was being stockpiled, saying: “No, that kind of selective snippet that makes it into the media I think is – to the extent that the pubic pay attention to it – I think is unhelpful…

“If we have no deal, we will want to make sure that we are prepared at the border, with the knock-on effects that would have if on the EU side they take the worst-case scenario approach, which is frankly irrational.”   

Elsewhere, pro-EU Tory Nicky Morgan urged her Remain supporting colleagues to "find the courage" to voice their Brexit views.

"We are running out of time," she told the Sunday Politics.

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine

Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine


Popular reads
Back to top