Tories clash over Brexit as one-year countdown approaches
Bitter divisions in the party will be fuelled as both sides hurl insults at opponents.
Bitter Conservative divisions over Brexit will be fuelled as both sides hurl insults at opponents as the one year countdown to exit approaches.
Prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg will say Remainers who refuse to accept the result of the European Union referendum are like the Japanese soldier who refused to surrender after the Second World War ended.
Former Cabinet minister Chris Patten, meanwhile, will claim the closest hard-Brexiteers have come to a free trade deal is “the checkout at Waitrose” and warn there is not even a “half-baked” solution to the Irish border problem on the table.
Britain is set to leave the EU at 11pm on March 29 next year.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who chairs the Conservative pro-Brexit European Research Group, will say reneging on the referendum result would be a national humiliation worse than the Suez crisis.
He will liken opponents of Brexit to Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda, who spent 29 years in the jungle because he did not believe the war was over.
The Tory MP will say: “With one year to go before the technical date of departure, this is the challenge to the decreasing number of Remainers who model themselves on Mr Hiroo Onoda, the Japanese soldier who finally surrendered in 1974 having previously refused to believe that the Second World War had ended.”
Mr Rees-Mogg will say that the UK will no longer be “hiding behind the skirts of the German chancellor” in international affairs.
He will add: “If we do not believe that we can do better by our own efforts, our own endeavours and our own choices, then we have become the managers of decline. Suez was forced upon us because of our precarious financial state after the war and the dishonesty of those who pursued the policy. The national humiliation was brought upon ourselves.
“This time it would be worse. We would be admitting as a nation that we simply did not cut the mustard, we were not up to taking our place in the world, and we were so fearful, fretful of the future, that we had to allow somebody else to do it for us.”
Lord Patten of Barnes, who was a European Commissioner, in a rival speech will say Brexiteers have abandoned the idea of “no deal is better than a bad deal” in favour of “any deal will do”.
He will say the government has failed to come up with credible plans for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“The Government have still not produced any even half-baked solution to the border question, though they have promised again and again that they will do so,” the peer will say.
“There is a simple answer to the Northern Ireland border question and to much else besides. Let’s stay in the Customs Union.
“The message to the Conservative Cabinet should be simply: ‘You know it makes sense’. That is, I predict, more or less what will happen.”
Lord Patten will claim Brexit Secretary David Davis “seems less confident now that the discussions have turned out to be more difficult than the promised walk in the park”.
Prime Minister Theresa May and leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson have set out hopes for a “global Britain” after Brexit but the phrase is “not only hypocritical, it is also political and economic nonsense”, he will claim.
“One problem is that the ministers who talk about these fictitious trade deals have never negotiated one.
“The closest they have come to a trade deal is the checkout at Waitrose.”