Government has been in Brexit negotiations with the Labour Party after the Prime Minister reached out to Jeremy Corbyn before the Easter break to try to deliver the UK’s departure from the Brussels bloc. Speaking on ITV’s Peston, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart was asked if the Prime Minister should risk splitting her party, by accepting a customs union or second referendum, to get Brexit over the line. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage was quick to criticised Mr Stewart’s reply claiming the Tory party “now serves no purpose”.
An ITV presenter Peston said: “The chief whip Julian Smith said to cabinet yesterday the only way he thinks now to get a majority for a Brexit deal would be either for the Government to sign up to a customs union, or for the Government to sign up for a confirmatory referendum.
“I would say at a modest estimate, 150 to 200 of your colleagues would never vote for that. Which means it would only get through with majority support from Labour and minority support from the Tories. Should the Prime minister take the risk of splitting her party to get the Brexit prize?”
- The International Development Secretary Mr Stewart replied: “I think the Prime Minister needs to deliver the first stage of Brexit before she goes. We need it desperately for the country.”
He said: “She would like to get this through with Conservative votes but very sadly there are 30, 40 Conservative colleagues who have steadfastly refused to vote for a Brexit deal.
“She must deliver a Brexit deal, that’s what people voted for, we’ve got to do it responsibly.
“And if that means working cross-party on this issue, not in general, we don’t agree with Jeremy Corbyn on 99 percent of things in the world, but on Brexit, there’s a reason to do that.
“This is not a settlement for this week, it’s something that’s got to last for 30 or 40 years, got to last through changes of government, changes of parties, and I think doing Brexit cross-party could turn out to be a smart thing to do to reassure investors, for example, that this thing will last.”
Former Ukip leader Mr Farage ripped into the response from the Conservative frontbencher.