Conservative MP Anna Soubry has launched an outspoken attack on “hard Brexiteers” on the Tory benches who she said would “not hesitate to destroy this party” in order to get what they wanted.
In am impassioned speech in the Commons on Wednesday, Soubry told Theresa May to “get a grip” to avoid a “Brexit nightmare”.
The Broxtowe MP, one of the most ardently pro-Remain Tory backbenchers, said she had come to the view that the public should be given a “meaningful vote” on what sort of Brexit deal they wanted.
Soubry said a “consensus” needed to be reached and pushed for the UK to at least join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and remain a member of the customs union after Brexit.
Soubry was speaking after the government relented and said it would release leaked studies that indicated any outcome from Brexit would leave Britain worse off.
“If we were in the middle of summer I might say it was an over exposure to a hot sun that seems to have caused a collective outbreak in the government of a form of madness,” she said.
“Their inability to grasp Brexit and do the right thing frankly is now at point where, as I say, it has got to stop and we have got to start to do the right thing and the right thing is to get this Brexit sorted out.
“Form a consensus in this place and within the country and deliver not just on the referendum result but deliver on the hopes and aspirations of our people.”
Soubry slammed May for not having presented a clear vision to the country or to the EU of what outcome she wanted from Brexit - 19 months on from the referendum result.
“If this government doesn’t get a grip at the top on the situation we will indeed walk into a Brexit nightmare,” she said.
“I have now come round to the very firm view it’s not just in this place we have to have a meaningful vote but actually the people of this country, they too, are entitled to a meaningful vote,” she said.
“It is not for us. We cannot undo this EU referendum result. It has to be the people and it has to be led by the people.”
Soubry told May to stop trying to “manage” the most eurosceptic wing of the Tory party. “Even if you gave them what they wanted today they would complain you hadn’t done it yesterday,” she said.
“It’s a battle to the death as far as as many are concerned and they will not hesitate to destroy this party, to destroy our prime minister, to get what they want.” She added: “The government needs to wake up to that reality.
Soubry also praised the EU having “put up with so much nonsense” from the UK during the negotiations.
“They’ve already made it clear, if we want to remain in the EU, that is an option,” she told MPs. “If we want to remain a member of the single market and the customs union that too is available.”
Soubry’s speech came as the Tory Minister who said the government’s Brexit policy should be driven by “evidence not dogma” has been disciplined by the party – but will stay in his job
Justice Minister Philip Lee took to Twitter on Tuesday night to question May’s approach to Brexit the leaked impact studies showed the UK would suffer an economic hit under a range of trading scenarios outside the EU.