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Divisions in Conservative Party worse than ever, former chief whip tells MPs

Andrew Mitchell warned that if a deal with the EU was not secured the Tory party would be blamed

A no-deal Brexit will “risk living standards and prospects” for all, former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell has warned.

The party grandee told ministers the Conservative Party would be blamed “whether people voted leave or remain” if a deal with the European Union was not brokered.

The Conservative Party owns this process and will be held to account for no deal Andrew Mitchell

Mr Mitchell, who served as a whip during the Major government, also observed that divisions were worse “than ever” in the Tory party.

He said: “I have to say in all honesty the position today is far worse in terms of internal conflict and disagreement than ever it was during the Maastricht era.

“They have led to a breakdown in collective responsibility in the Cabinet, with a consequent breakdown in normal party discipline far worse than anything we remotely saw during the parliamentary stage of Maastricht.

“This breakdown in relationships, these deep divisions in this place and outside are going to be very difficult indeed to heal.”

Mr Mitchell said that the Government had “bet the farm on the Chequers formula” and would have to “repel all borders whether from Brussels or from Somerset” — in reference to North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is a member of the Brexiteer ERG group in Parliament.

Mr Mitchell added: “There are many of us who regret the Government decision to give in at the first whiff of grapeshot emanating from the west country earlier this week, precisely because giving in will make it more difficult to resist counter pressure from other directions to change.”

Mr Mitchell went on to warn that no-deal would “not be fine at the outset”, he said: “No deal will at first threaten our levels of growth and risk the living standards and prospects of those we are sent here to represent.

“It risks endangering the opportunities we want to see for our constituents, not least the younger ones leaving education and entering the world of work – and it will be this administration which will be blamed, whether people voted leave or remain.

“The Conservative Party owns this process and will be held to account for no deal.”

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