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Why Tory Remainers hope Brexiteers will destroy Theresa May’s Brexit deal



Charles Tannock
Charles Tannock MEP.
YouTube/Eu Reporter

  • Strongly pro-EU Conservatives want Theresa May’s Brexit
    deal to collapse, according to a leading Tory MEP.
  • That’s because they believe this will create the best
    conditions for another Brexit referendum. 
  • “I want the deal rejected because it might result in us
    remaining in the European Union via a People’s Vote,” Charles
    Tannock told Business Insider.
  • Tannock believes an unholy alliance of ultra Brexiteers
    and staunch Remainers could a clear route to Britain reversing
    the 2016 vote and staying in the EU.
  • May is under pressure from Brexiteers to take a more
    hardline approach to negotiations after she suggested that the
    transition period could be longer than originally


LONDON — A group of hardcore Remainers in the Conservative party
hope that Leave-supporting MPs will vote down Theresa May’s
Brexit deal in order to trigger a second referendum, according to
one of the group’s founding members.

This week is set to be one of the most precarious of May’s
premiership, with MPs from all sides of the Conservative party
criticising her handling of Brexit talks after she suggested that the
transition period could be extended.

Charles Tannock, an MEP who co-founded the “Conservatives for a
People’s Vote” group, told Business Insider that pro-EU
parliamentarians in the Tory party are rooting for Brexiteers to
vote down any deal May brings back to Westminster. This, Tannock
said, is because they believe this would create the ample
conditions for a fresh referendum, which included the option of
Britain remaining in the EU.

“The more MPs that vote against the deal, the better,” Tannock
told BI, adding that the “worst” scenario for 10 Downing
Street  “is best for people like me who are pro-European.”

‘A curious conflation of interests from diametrically opposed

Steve Baker
Steve Baker, a leading member of the European Research


Leave-supporting Conservative MPs have been restless ever since
May revealed her Chequers blueprint for leaving the EU. They
believe it would leave Britain too closely tied to EU rules,
unable to strike meaningful new trade deals, and subservient
to the European Court of Justice.

The anger among Brexiteers has increased in recent weeks as the
prime minister has tried to unlock the impasse in Brexit talks.
May has riled pro-Leave Conservative MPs by suggesting that the
21-month transition period could be extended and her refusal to
guarantee a backstop period that comes with a fixed end date.

Steve Baker, a leading member of the pro-Brexit European Research
Group of MPs, has said as many as 80 of its members would vote
against the prime minister’s deal should she bring it before

Even if half that number voted down the deal, that would still
create a strong possibility of it failing to pass, creating
uncertain conditions in which a number of currently seemingly
far-fetched scenarios would become more plausible. Those include
a general election, a Tory leadership contest, or another Brexit

Dr Charles Tannock
Dr Charles

Office of Charles Tannock

It is that variety of possibilities which has created a somewhat
unholy alliance between those Remain supporters who hope the
government be forced to call a second referendum and those who
believe it could create a change in policy which resulted in a
harder Brexit.

“It’s a curious conflation of interests and thinking from
diametrically opposed viewpoints,” Tannock told BI.

“For me, I want the deal rejected because it might result in us
remaining in the European Union via a People’s Vote.

“[The ERG] want the deal rejected because they think it will
topple May and put someone even harder in place,” he said.

Around 700,000 people marched for a People’s Vote in London on
Saturday, while a growing number of Conservative MPs are
considering joining the campaign. Tory MPs including Anna Soubry,
Sarah Wollaston and Dr Philip Lee are already supporters of the
campaign, plus a host of Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs.

The government has repeatedly ruled out the prospect of a second
Brexit referendum, with May suggesting it would be “a gross
betrayal of our democracy.” But if her deal failed to pass
through parliament, the government would likely face a much
starker set of choices than it does currently.

‘As tough as possible’

Some MEPs in Brussels who support calls for a second referendum
also believe that the EU should maintain an uncompromising stance
with UK negotiators because a “sweet” deal would be more
likely to pass through parliament, Tannock said.

“A number of MEPs I have spoken to who fully understand that
their governments must tow the line and be as tough as possible,
not to blink,” he said.

“They now know that if Mrs May gets a bad deal, she’s likely to
have it voted down. If she gets something very sweet, she may
persuade Labour to co-operate, and enough Tory rebels to back

Brexit negotiations are currently at an impasse
over the thorny issue of the backstop policy for preserving the
frictionless Irish border. The EU is adamant that Northern
Ireland must effectively stay in the single market and customs
union if no other workable options are available. May has said
she will never accept this as it would create new checks between
Northern Ireland and Great Britain and undermine the integrity of
the UK.

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