A major Tory donor warned he could stop funding the party over Brexit

A major Tory donor said the UK could “sleepwalk to disaster” if it leaves the European single market, in an interview with The Times.

Sir Andrew Cook, who has given more than £1 million to the Conservatives, warned he could stop donations if the party pulled Britain out of Europe with without a decent trade deal.

Cook is chairman of the William Cook group, which operates steel foundries in Sheffield, Leeds and Stanhope.

He said at least one of his factories was dependent on single-market membership.

Cook told The Times: “It is very difficult to make a political donation to a party when, although I support it ideologically, I do not believe that my interests and my ideology are ad idem with the principal Brexiteers,” he said.

Continued membership of the single market is at odds with the Conservative party’s aim to reduce immigration and end the UK’s participation in the free movement of European Union citizens.

But it is still unclear how the UK government will approach negotiations with the EU. Article 50 is expected to be triggered in March, with talks taking at least two years to thrash out the details of Brexit.

According to the BBC, the Conservatives reported more than £2.8 million in donations in the months after the June referendum on EU membership.

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