British Prime Minister Theresa May should stand up to hard-line Brexiteers and kick them out of the Conservative Party, Remainer Tory MP Anna Soubry told BBC Newsnight on Monday.
Soubry, a former member of ex-PM David Cameron’s Cabinet, said “hard ideological Brexiteers” like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg “have taken over” the party.
“They are not the Tory party I joined 40 years ago, and it is about time Theresa stood up to them and slung ’em out,” Soubry said.
“Frankly, people have got to grow some, get a spine, stiffen up, stand up to these people — most of them are ghastly bullies but also cowards at the same time — and speak up for their constituents and what is right for our country,” she added.
Soubry threatened to quit the party if May does not challenge the hard-liners, and said she’s not alone.
“If it comes to it, I am not going to stay in a party which has been taken over by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson … And if that means leaving the party, form some new alliance, God knows, I don’t know,” she said, adding that May is in danger of “losing huge swathes of not just the parliamentary party but the Conservative Party.”
She warned: “[May] thinks she can pander to 35, forgetting there is a much larger group who are getting sick and tired of this.”
Soubry said plans for a softer line on post-Brexit trade between the EU and the U.K. — such as seeking membership of the European Free Trade Association or remaining in the customs union or single market — were thrown out to please the party’s hard-liners.
She also accused them of “taking down” former PMs Cameron and John Major, whom she called “two great leaders, neither of whom stood up to them.”
In what is seen as a concession to those in favor of a hard Brexit, Downing Street said Monday it would not consider staying in a customs union with the EU.