Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Apologetic PM May vows to get Tories 'out of this mess' with softer Brexit on the agenda

By Arj Singh

Pressure on Theresa May to pursue a more cross-party approach to Brexit with greater focus on the economy is growing, amid reports of secret talks between Cabinet ministers and Labour MPs.

It comes after the Prime Minister told Tory MPs "I'm the person who got us into this mess and I'm the one who will get us out of it", at a crunch Conservative Party meeting in Parliament.

Scottish Conservatives' leader Ruth Davidson, whose influence has grown dramatically with the election of 13 Tories north of the border, has already broken cover to say "this isn't just going to be a Tory Brexit".

Mrs May's weakened position in the House of Commons as a result of losing her majority has fuelled speculation the Tories would be forced to soften their stance on Brexit.

The Evening Standard, edited by Tory former chancellor George Osborne, and the Daily Telegraph, have reported that Cabinet ministers have initiated talks with Labour MPs to secure cross-party backing for a softer Brexit.

Ms Davidson was the first senior Tory to break cover with calls for a change in approach.

After attending the Prime Minister's political cabinet on Monday, she told BBC News: "I'm suggesting that the Conservative Party works with those both within the House of Commons and with people outside to ensure that as we leave the EU we have a Brexit that works for the economy and puts that first.

"There was a real sense around the Cabinet table today, as you would expect from centre right politicians, that that is the primacy we're looking for."

Ms Davidson suggested the government may shift its priority from cutting immigration to ensuring a good deal for business and the economy.

After Mrs May apologised to the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs for her poor election performance yesterday, some of those present suggested the PM would consult more with business on her approach to the Brexit talks.

Ms Davidson said: "We do have to make sure that we invite other people in now. This isn't just going to be a Tory Brexit, this is going to have to involve the whole country.

"We can make a big, bold offer that brings the country with us, that brings people in from the other side of the aisle in the House of Commons but also brings people in from outside the Commons too."

Mrs May also sought to reassure MPs that any confidence and supply deal with the DUP to prop up her minority administration would not affect power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland or LGBT rights.

It came as her most senior minister, Damian Green, confirmed that the Queen's Speech, due to set out the government's programme on June 19, could be delayed as the Tories seek an agreement with the DUP.

The PM looks to have withstood immediate internal pressure to resign and there was no discussion at the 1922 Committee of how long she would remain in post, although there were clear signals of how her style of rule would change to keep MPs on side. MPs agreed that they and their constituents did not want another General Election and were united in the aim of stopping Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister.

The meeting came shortly after First Secretary of State Mr Green said that agreement with the DUP would have to be sealed before finalising the details of the Queen's Speech, setting out the government's legislative programme.

Mr Green said talks with the DUP were "going well".

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph