Ex-PM calls May to open Brexit debate
Ex-UK prime minister David Cameron has added to pressure on his predecessor Theresa May to adopt a “softer” Brexit, saying she should talk to the Labour Party to develop some consensus on the divisive issue.
In his first public comments since the surprise June 8 general election in which May lost her parliamentary majority, Cameron told an ABSL business event in Poland that the enfeebled prime minister had to “listen to other parties” on how to leave the bloc.
“It’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about that, but perhaps an opportunity to consult more widely with the other parties on how best we can achieve it,” said Cameron, who resigned after losing the EU referendum last June.
“I think there will be pressure for a softer Brexit,” Cameron added, saying MPs now “deserves a say” on the talks and that “over Brexit, she is going to have to talk more widely, listen to other parties”.
Cameron mentioned the 13 new Conservative MPs in Scotland, who won largely as voters rejected calls for a second independence referendum. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, had demanded “an open Brexit”, said the former prime minister.
“There’s no doubt that there is a new player on the stage,” Cameron said. “Scotland voted against Brexit. I think most of the Scottish Conservatives will want to see perhaps some changes with the policy going forward.”
Ideas for a softer Brexit include the UK remaining inside the customs union, accepting a continuing limited role for the European Court of Justice, or a deal on free movement to allow closer ties with the single market.
Within the Conservative Party, the election recriminations are continuing. A minister sacked by May is claiming that the party faces the wilderness if it does not change.
“The Conservative Party is on death row,” Robert Halfon wrote in the mass market Sun. “Unless we reform our values, our membership offering and our party infrastructure, we face defeat at the next election – and potentially years of opposition.”
May appears keen to ignore her electoral humiliation and to battle on with Brussels, despite her weaker position. Her office said a “Brexit commission” was “not on the agenda”.
Speaking alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace, she said: “I confirmed to President Macron that the timetable for the Brexit negotiation remains on course and will begin next week.”
Macron appeared to suggest the UK could change its mind on Brexit, saying: “Of course the door remains open, always open, until the Brexit negotiations come to an end.”
One of David Cameron’s defaced posters ahead of the 2010 election. Picture credit: Flickr