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New split in Tory party as moderate Brexit group takes on Rees-Mogg's no-deal hardliners


Added on 13/08/2018

(Express) -- JACOB Rees-Mogg and other hardline leavers are being challenged by a new bloc of 50 Conservative MPs who have formed the “Brexit Delivery Group”, which is a challenge to the Eurosceptic Research Group.

The Brexit Delivery group is made up of moderate Conservatives who want to make sure the UK strikes a deal with the EU in March.

Members are Leavers as well as Remainers and it is led by the party's head of policy Chris Skidmore and MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Simon Hart.

Mr Skidmore has urged MPs to unite and warned it was at “risk of becoming self-defined as simply the Brexit party, without a clear domestic offer for the country”.

The leaders of the group will have weekly meetings when parliament returns next month to “find a pragmatic Brexit outcome”.

In a letter asking Tories to join, Mr Hart and Mr Percy said Leavers and Remainers were united over the need to honour the referendum, adding: “What we seek to do is recognise that there is a significant number of voters, businesses and elected colleagues who feel that the debate is being dominated by the loudest voices that ‘bookend’ the pragmatic middle ground – in other words the ‘status quo’ versus ‘leave at all costs’.

“Our group does not seek to compete with or outgun other groups or to trap the Government. It is simply an opportunity for colleagues who think we can devise pragmatic proposals to have a voice.

“As Brexit is a process, not an event, we need to produce an agreement that stands the best chance of getting through Parliament.

“However, we are worried that this outcome could be put at risk by those who, perfectly honourably, seek the purity of perfection.

Mr Skidmore has been given the task of finding 1,000 ideas to inspire Conservative thinking.

He wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that the Conservatives risked becoming more consumed by "process instead of outcomes".

He added: “Each day spent talking about Brexit is a day lost spent setting out our future vision for the NHS, schools, transport, and law and order.”

But the Tories could face a hard time at the polls as a result of their handling of Brexit.

A ComRes survey of 10,000 voters in leave backing constituencies found the majority wanted a political party to “finish the job properly” with a “clean Brexit”.

The survey in Brexit-backing Labour constituencies found 52 percent could back a political party with “a single aim of putting pressure on the main parties to conclude Brexit as quickly and fully as possible”.

City financier and party donor Jeremy Hosking, who funded the research, said the polling showed voters were disappointed by the response of the main parties to “what was a clear democratic instruction”.

Theresa May laughed with Angela Merkel after meeting the German chancellor only hours after Brexit chaos resignations

The survey comes as polling guru John Curtice said he expects a new anti-Brexit centrist party to emerge if Mrs May failed to reach a deal.

Speaking to Nigel Farage on his LBC show, the polling guru said: "I think we are going to see a situation where a so-called centre party, by which we really mean a pro-Remain, slightly left-wing party than Jeremy Corbyn’s party, is going to emerge simply and naturally.”

But the Conservatives face yet more pressure this autumn as Parliament will be asked to approve Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The Treasury has also played down rumours that Philip Hammond was thinking of bringing the Budget forward next month.