Ken Clarke has said he will vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, despite it being “a bit of a dog’s breakfast”.
In a boost for the beleaguered Prime Minister, the former Chancellor and arch Tory remainer revealed he would give her his backing in an interview on Tuesday morning.
He told Sky News: “I will vote for this deal.
“I think it is a bit of a dog’s breakfast. I think if she hadn’t made so many efforts to appease she could have got a slightly better one.
“We could have just stayed in the single market and customs unions on the date of withdrawal before we go into the big negotiations on what the long term aim is, but I will settle for this.”
May has a battle on her hands to get the deal she is finalising this week with EU leaders through Parliament next month.
The hardline Brexiteer wing of her party is in revolt, with Jacob Rees Mogg among those refusing to back the plans and calling for a confidence vote in the PM.
The DUP, which props up May’s government, is also strongly against the Withdrawal Agreement over the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, which could see the region have different customs arrangements to the rest of the UK.
Labour and the SNP have said they will attempt to vote down the deal, with Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn holding talks yesterday on how they could avoid the spectre of a no-deal exit from the bloc.
Remain-backing Tories, meanwhile, are weighing up whether to throw their weight behind the PM.
But Clarke has said, while he believes the Withdrawal Agreement could have seen the UK secure better terms, he will not be join the rebels.
He said: “It keeps the borders as they are. It keeps everything continuous for British business industry, investment, and it paves the way for the transition period because the serious negotiations start now really about what are the long term arrangements going to be that affect all our children and grandchildren.”
His words will spark suggestions that other Tory Remainers, such as Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, could follow suit.
May will jet out to Brussels after Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday to meet with EU leaders in a bid to flesh out the final details.
MPs are expected to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes transition arrangements, in December.