Brexit crisis prompts calls for national unity government
21 July 2018
Following parliamentary votes on customs and trade legislation so close as to threaten Theresa May’s premiership, calls have been made from pro-European Union (EU) sections of the Conservative Party for a national unity government to break the deadlock over Brexit.
Divisions over Brexit cut across all existing party lines. Around 10 Labourites have consistently voted with the Tories’ hard-Brexit wing, while a more substantial section of the party’s MPs are united with the soft-Brexit/pro-Remain wing of the Tories—not just in seeking to preserve UK access to the EU’s customs union and single market, but also ensuring that the crisis facing May’s government doesn’t precipitate a general election and a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The votes in Parliament Monday and Tuesday were on amendments authored by the Tories hard-Brexit wing to quash the soft-Brexit agreement nominally reached by May with her cabinet just days earlier. More than 10 pro-EU Tory MPs voted against the government, leaving May reliant on four pro-Brexit Labour MPs and another former Labour MP who votes as an Independent for a majority.
Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s “Today” programme Wednesday, pro-EU Tory rebel Anna Soubry called for a cross-party “government of national unity.” She denounced the threats by party whips that failure to get the legislation through would result in a no confidence vote in May that would open the way for a Corbyn government.
Soubry told the BBC she would support May in a vote of no confidence but, “Problem is, I don’t think that she’s in charge any more. I’ve no doubt [leader of the hard-Brexit faction and leadership contender Jacob Rees-Mogg] is…