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Government stance on Brexit ‘nonsense’ and Labour ‘cowards’, Anna Soubry says

The Conservative former minister says the “no deal is better than a bad deal” slogan should be dropped.

Theresa May’s Government needs to “wake up” and change its tone on Brexit, a Conservative former minister has said.

Anna Soubry said things have changed since the election with a need to drop the “no deal is better than a bad deal” slogan, telling the Commons it is “a nonsense”.

Ms Soubry also urged Labour to stop being “cowards” and fully outline its Brexit stance.

Ms Soubry, replying to the Queen’s Speech, said she had been proved right after younger voters who supported Remain at the EU referendum chose to support Labour rather than the Tories on June 8.

She welcomed remarks, including from her party’s frontbench, that there is a need to change the tone.

Ms Soubry went on: “My own frontbench has to wake up and understand that things have now changed. The rhetoric has to be dropped.

“This slogan ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ is a nonsense and the British people know it and that is why they voted as they did on June 8.

“Nobody likes somebody being very smug but I am going to have to say this, I stood up in this place, in this spot on two occasions and I warned honourable and right honourable friends on this side of the House of the dangers of ignoring the 48% and young in particular.

“Many young people who voted Remain believe an older generation has stolen their future and the result was there on June 8, I hate to have been proved right but I was proved right.

“Look at the demographics of those results, and as you see almost mirrored from the referendum the older people were, the more likely they were to have voted Conservative.

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How different age groups voted in the general election according to Ipsos MORI estimates (PA graphic)

“The younger ones… people under the age of 45, more of them voted Labour in that election.”

Ms Soubry said it was “profoundly ironic” those voters had backed a party led by Jeremy Corbyn, who she said gave Remain “lukewarm” support during the referendum.

She said of Labour MPs: “They too now have to wake up and accept the reality of the situation. They have promised many of those people things they may not be able to deliver on.

“So when they talk about the customs union, the single market and immigration, they have now got to say what they mean and stop being cowards about it.

“If you think you want the benefits of the customs union, have the, I nearly said a word which is very unparliamentary, have the courage to stand up and say that, make the case, make the argument, as we now need to do to make the case and make the argument about the benefits of immigration.”

Ms Soubry said the UK has a “great bright future” ahead but that is “despite” leaving the EU.

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