Opinion: Anna Soubry’s wrong – the Tory Party is a Brexit Party now

Oh dear. Anna Soubry is at it again. On Monday’s edition of Newsnight, the Tory Remainer implored the Government to “sling out” its hard Brexiteers. She claims that 35 “ideological” MP’s are holding the Executive to ransom. She added that huge swathes of the Party would leave if Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, or a fellow Eurosceptic took over.

Soubry is committed to frustrating and diluting the EU withdrawal process. Throughout the referendum campaign, she was a passionate and outspoken Remainer. In the wake of the result, she spoke tearfully at a pro-EU rally. And since then, she has routinely defied the whip on matters relating to Brexit.

Soubry presents hard Brexiteers as an isolated cabal in the Party’s stratosphere. She claims that grassroots members, voters and most MP’s want a ‘soft Brexit’ like her. Let’s take a look at these claims.According to last month’s study by Queen Mary University of London, three quarters of Tory members want to leave the single market and customs union:

Euroscepticism also prevails among the Party’s wider voters, as the following post-referendum polls from Lord Ashcroft and YouGov reveal:

Granted, we don’t know for sure if these Leavers are hard Brexiteers – but the Tories did pledge to leave both the single market and customs union in last year’s manifesto.

Singling out Mogg and Johnson was also an intriguing move. As of last week, Rees-Mogg topped Conservative Home’s survey of preferred leaders among Party members. Michael Gove – another hard Brexiteer – pips BoJo to second place:

And finally, those 35 colleagues in Parliament. The number of hard Brexit Tory MP’s is far more than 35. In EU matters, the overwhelming majority of the 317 Tory Members tow the Party line. This, after all, is their promise to the electorate.

Soubry’s rant has no grounding in reality. The entire Tory Party is staunchly Eurosceptic and there will not be an Exodus if the leadership one day reflects this. Let’s hope she comes round soon.


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