One of the Tories most high-profile Remain MPs today admitted she would be prepared to join a new party to stop a hard Brexit.
Anna Soubry, a former Business Minister, said her “country must come before her party” as she set out why she would be prepared to walk away from the Tories.
Writing in the Mail On Sunday, the Broxtowe MP warned Theresa May that she should side with “wise owls” such as Chancellor Philip Hammond to stop Brexiteers “plunging this country headlong into an economic nightmare”.
She also warned that once the public realises they have been “conned” by the Brexit-campaigners, “all options must go back on the table” – clear support for a second referendum.
The call for another vote was also put forward today by former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who said it would be “prudent” for either the public or parliament to be given the option of rejecting May’s Brexit deal, and therefore remaining in the EU.
The interventions from across the political divide come just days after Brexit Secretary David Davis’s former chief of staff claimed two current Cabinet Ministers support the creation of a new anti-Brexit party.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Soubry said: “We must face up to the Brexit reality: It is fantasy to think we are going to get a good deal from the EU based on our current negotiating strategy.
“People will soon see how they have been conned by the Brexiteers. All options must go back on the table.
She added: “I am proud of my loyalty to my party and my country.
“People have asked me two questions, if the worst happened and we staggered recklessly towards a ‘Hard Brexit’ that would destroy the lives and livelihoods of my constituents: Could I ever see myself joining with like-minded people who want to save our country from such an appalling fate? And has that moment arrived yet?
“The answer to the first question is ‘it is not impossible’; the answer to the second is ‘no’.
“But I would be betraying my principles if I did not make it clear that country must always come before party.”
Talk of a new pro-European party to halt Brexit have been circulating since the 2016 referendum result, but nothing concrete has emerged.
Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeatedly called for the centre-left of British politics to be remade in the light of the EU referendum and General Election results, but has been lukewarm on suggestions of starting a new party.
David Miliband, one of Blair’s protégées during his 13 years as Labour leader, made no mention of a new party in his article for the Observer, and instead attacked the Tory’s top Cabinet members for peddling a “delusion” of life for the UK outside the EU.
He said: “The implementation of the EU referendum decision has been rash and chaotic. The timing and content has been governed by factions in the Tory party. Our negotiating position is a mystery – even on immigration.
Miliband added: “I never thought I would say this, but the chancellor, Philip Hammond, is also playing a valiant role.
“The transition he supports is vital. However, a transition postpones a rupture rather than avoiding it. Slow Brexit does not mean soft Brexit. Steve Baker, minister in the department leading the negotiations, has been refreshingly honest in saying the transition period is a “soft landing for a hard Brexit”. We have been warned.
“The case against the EU depends on avoiding a discussion of the alternative. It is the equivalent of voting to repeal Obamacare without knowing the replacement. It is a stitch-up.
“That is one reason it is essential that parliament or the public are given the chance to have a straight vote between EU membership and the negotiated alternative. That is a democratic demand, not just a prudent one.
“People say we must respect the referendum. We should. But democracy did not end on 23 June 2016. The referendum will be no excuse if the country is driven off a cliff. MPs are there to exercise judgment.
“Delegating to Theresa May and David Davis, never mind Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.
“Brexit is an unparalleled act of economic self-harm. But it was a big mistake to reduce the referendum to this question. The EU represents a vision of society and politics, not just economics. We need to fight on this ground too.
“Delegating to Theresa May and David Davis, never mind Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.”
Miliband is no longer an MP, having quit Parliament in 2013 three years after losing the Labour leadership election to his brother Ed.
He now works as the President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee in New York.