Internal party fighting has once again broken out in the Conservative Party following the government’s defeat in the House of Commons last night.
Business Minister Richard Harrington, who is Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry & Energy, in an interview with The House magazine:
“The prime minister has done a pretty good job of standing up to them up till now, but they were drinking champagne to celebrate her losing her deal and I regard that as being treachery.”
The defeat in the Commons will greatly weaken May’s negotiating stance and makes a No Deal even more likely. Reports say the EU is hesitant to make changes to the Withdrawal agreement because it believes the deal would still be voted down.
MPs voted against a motion endorsing the government’s strategy by 303 to 258, with 66 Tory MPs abstaining. ERG refused to vote for the motion as they believed it signaled that the UK was taking No Deal off the table.
Harrington who has previously warned about the dangers of No Deal to the UK’s economy and said if this displeases the PM she should sack him also stated that ERG backbenchers should leave the Conservative Party as they are not conservatives.
In the same interview with House he said they should leave the party saying:
“I read that Nigel Farage is setting up a new party called Brexit and if I were them (ERG Tories) I’d be looking at
that,because that seems to reflect their views more than the Conservative party. In my view, they’re not Conservatives.
Harrington said that the PM should not give into “a minority of a minority,” which is what the ERG is.
The ERG group have come up with an alternative to May’s deal known as the “malt-house compromise”. However, the minister dismissed the plan saying:
“It’s basically regurgitated Canada-plus, which we know is not at all suited to our close relationship with the European Union, plus a bit of glorified number plate recognition kit, which they’ve got there anyway.
I think it’s just fanciful nonsense.”
The malthouse compromise is an attempt to unite the Tories around a deal that will pass the house but like most ERG suggestions it has been criticised as unrealistic.
The proposal uses unspecified technology to solve the Irish Border problem.
Harrington has declared he would be happy to be sacked if May is unhappy with him speaking out about Brexit.
May is still attempting to renegotiate her deal so it can pass the Commons but the EU is unwilling to negotiate any further with the EU meaning
Trade with the EU amounts to 44% of all UK exports and 53% of all UK imports. Adding tariffs to this trade would hurt the UK economy as imported goods would become more expensive while British goods would be less competitive in EU markets. British exporters to the EU would be hit by tariffs of around £6bn.
Over 15 years No Deal would amount to the UK economy being 9.3% smaller than if the nation had stayed in the EU. The CBI forecasts the regions worst hit would be the North East and West Midlands due to the manufacturing industries based there. Ford has predicted the economy would be £900 million worse off in 2019 alone.
The British Chamber of Commerce has said that thousands of British companies have triggered emergency plans to cope with a no-deal Brexit, with many preparing to move operations abroad if the UK crashes out of the EU.