Remainers in the party—and in the Cabinet—are antagonising some on the Conservatives' Brexit wingby Alex Dean / August 22, 2017 / Leave a comment
“It is highly unlikely the EU will stick to a punitive line.” Last year, two weeks before the EU referendum, I went to David Davis’s office. One leg slung over the arm of his chair, he insisted that there was little chance the EU would seek to punish Britain in the event of a “Leave” vote. “You’re talking tiny fractions of a per cent.”
His comments were typical of Brexiteers in the run-up to the referendum, but that now seems a long time ago. Little progress has been made since negotiations started, with all concessions so far coming from our own side. Having promised the “row of the summer” over the Brexit timetable, Davis acceded to the EU’s proposed timings on the very first day of talks.
The response to this on the “Remain” side has been predictable: despair, mixed with a helping of “I told you so.” But what about in the Brexit camp? Ahead of negotiations re-starting next week, what do committed Eurosceptics make of Britain’s progress so far? Disheartening, or is a breakthrough just round the corner?
These talks “were never going to be a walk in the park,” Conservative MP and prominent Leaver Tim Loughton told me, although he blames “inveterate Remoaners” for emboldening the EU. Are there any of those in his own party, I asked? His reply was just one word: “Soubry.” What about in the cabinet—any there? “Yes.”
Some of his colleagues had similarly harsh words for the remaining remainers. Owen Paterson was one of three MPs to found Vote Leave. While not calling out any MPs by name, he echoed Loughton’s sentiments: “Those in denial must take note, and understand th…