LONDON — Theresa May has to unite the Conservatives with her key speech on Brexit this week or face Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister, William Hague has warned.
The former foreign secretary said that there will be “no point” discussing who will be the next Tory leader unless senior ministers can agree on their approach to Brexit, as the lack of coordination will allow Labour to win.
Hague, who was also Conservative leader, wrote in a Telegraph column that the prime minister and her government are in a “perilous position” and will “come to grief without a determined effort to stick together from all of its members.”
Prime Minister May will speak in Florence on Friday, in which she will reportedly set out her vision for post-Brexit Britain.
Hague, now a Tory peer, said that the best way for the government to progress on Brexit is through “upbeat realism,” meaning being “positive and enthusiastic about the future of the UK but realistic about the formidable difficulty of leaving the EU without damage.”
He said: “The instinct of Boris that the world needs to hear the upbeat message about Britain is correct, because far too many people abroad are now assuming that we are in some rather pitiable and paralysed state.”
This follows Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson publishing a 4,000-word vision for a “glorious Brexit” on Friday night.
However, Hague said that he supported a “simple deal with the EU” through “a couple of years when we stay in the single market and customs union and then have enough time to settle a good free trade deal.”
This is similar to Labour’s policy on Brexit, which suggests the UK should be a member of the single market and customs union during transition, which would force the government to continue contributing money to the EU and accepting free movement.
Johnson warned in his article that the UK should not agree to pay “extortionate sums” to access the single market, arguing that “they would not pay us for access to our market.”
Hague said that if May could find a balance between being realistic and upbeat, “it will be a message around which her colleagues could unite.”
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