- Tory peer Baroness Altmann threatens to quit the party if Theresa May pursues a hard Brexit.
- The former Pensions minister says she is one of a “number of people in the party who are very concerned” with Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal.
- Altmann’s remarks echo those of Tory MP Anna Soubry who threatened to quit the party over Brexit this month.
LONDON — Former Conservative minister Baroness Altmann has threatened to quit the Conservative party if Prime Minister Theresa May pursues a “hard” Brexit.
Speaking to the HuffPost, Altmann, who served as Pensions minister under David Cameron, said she would consider walking away and even joining a new party in the event of Britain crashing out of the European Union with no deal.
“The Government has put forward papers but the papers are a wish list. What if we can’t have it? What if it’s not achievable?” the peer said.
“I am hoping there’s room in the mainstream parties for people with different views.
“I am not a dyed-in-the-wool Tory. I do think there are a number of people in the party who are very concerned with no deal.”
Altmann was speaking to the HuffPo to promote the People’s March for Europe event which will see thousands of anti-Brexit campaigners march on Westminster Saturday, September 9.
Her comments echoed those of Conservative backbencher Anna Soubry, who earlier this month said she would consider quitting the party altogether if Prime Minister “sides with the hardliners” over Brexit.
“Mrs May must waste no time in taking on the ‘Hard Brexiteers’ and making it clear that she sides with responsible Cabinet Ministers — such as Chancellor Philip Hammond — who appreciate that we need a sensible Brexit transition period to avoid plunging this country headlong into an economic nightmare,” Soubry wrote for the Mail on Sunday.
Asked whether she feels the same as Soubry MP, Atlmann said: “I am on a similar page to that.”
When asked if she backed the creation of a new anti-Brexit party, she added: “It maybe we do need a new party, but I hope that’s not the case.”
The Tory peer’s remarks come as the UK government struggles to make progress in Brexit negotiations with EU negotiators. The EU side is “increasingly doubtful” that talks will be able to move onto the next phase in October as initially planned, Politico reports. British and EU negotiators were scheduled to discuss trade when talks resume next month, however, the two sides are yet to reach agreement on the so-called divorce bill and future role of the European Court of Justice.
Sir David Edward, a former ECJ judge, told Business Insider this week that Prime Minister is “ignorant” for believing she can end all ECJ jurisdiction over Britain after the country leaves the EU.
“It just shows how ignorant she is,” Sir David said.
“To end UK jurisdiction is simply to say we are not going to obey EU law anymore. Well, this is fine, as long as British business chooses to operate entirely inside the UK.”
He added: “If a business manufacturing goods in the UK wants to export goods to the EU, as hundreds of them do, then those goods must comply with EU standards. As a practical matter, if you’re manufacturing wedding cakes, for example, and you have to comply with EU food standards, you don’t want to have to create two sets of wedding cake. You want to create one set to come off the production line so the cakes can be consumed both in the UK and the EU.
“In that sense, the EU law will continue to apply in the sense that people will have to obey it. We cannot escape the jurisdiction of the ECJ.”
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