A new cross-party campaign to give the nation a chance to accept or reject Theresa May’s final Brexit deal will be launched by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory Anna Soubry today.
They will team up with fellow pro-Europe supporters at a rally in London aimed at stopping what they say is the threat of a disastrous ‘hard Brexit’ being forced on the people of the UK.
Umunna and Soubry’s shared opposition to Brexit has seen them emerge as an unlikely Labour-Conservative double act.
A new cross-party campaign to give the nation a chance to accept or reject Theresa May’s final Brexit deal will be launched by Labour’s Chuka Umunna and Tory Anna Soubry today
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday at the Commons, they said they were adamant that their campaign for a ‘People’s Vote’ (they refuse to call it a second referendum, presumably to avoid cries of ‘not another one’) is not just another attempt to stop Brexit altogether.
‘Going round shouting “Stop Brexit!” won’t achieve anything,’ says Umunna. But isn’t that exactly what they will be doing today?
‘No,’ they reply as one.
But what is the point in having another vote?
‘If Theresa May gets a good deal, what better validation for it than if the people vote for it?’ says Soubry, optimistically. Mrs May will need more convincing than that.
Umunna has a go: ‘It’s like putting an offer in on a house and the survey says the foundations are terrible. Anyone with any sense would withdraw from the transaction.
People like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg are saying “Let’s go ahead and buy it’’ even though they have been told part of it will collapse.’
That’s more like it. But even if they get the vote they want, and the public reject Mrs May’s Brexit deal, it’s not clear what the consequence would be.
Would it mean we stay in the EU; leave without a deal; go back to Brussels to renegotiate, perhaps? Umunna and Soubry won’t be pinned down. Both have been subjected to vicious sniping from their own sides and are braced for more.
They express shared outrage at Rees-Mogg for comparing people who carry on criticising Brexit to ‘cave-dwellers’ and to the Japanese soldier who served in the Second World War but didn’t surrender until 1974.
‘To smear 16 million people as cave-dwellers and Japanese soldiers because they don’t support his “hard Brexit’’ is appalling,’ says Umunna. Soubry adds indignantly: ‘Many of whom are fellow Conservatives! There’s a concerted attempt to shut people up and bully anyone who doesn’t back a “hard Brexit”. We are not going to allow it.’
Umunna warns Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against ‘aiding and abetting’ a Tory hard Brexit. Once seen as a future Labour leader himself, he vents his contempt for Corbyn’s cult-like Left-wing following.
Umunna warns Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against ‘aiding and abetting’ a Tory hard Brexit
‘I don’t care if people turn everything you say into your love or not for the leader. It is about principles.
‘If they don’t understand that, they’ll have to lump it. I’m not going to be muzzled from arguing against things I know will harm my community. Labour is bigger than the adulation of an individual.’
Soubry says she fears the Tories are veering towards ‘extremism’ and thinks that the hard Left and hard Right are the same: ‘If you’re against them there’s no holds barred to the abuse, it’s…’
Umunna chimes in ‘… off with your head! All this Left Right, tribal, yah boo sucks, Punch and Judy politics – it’s outdated.’
Soubry echoes him: ‘Absolutely. It’s pathetic.’
Reports emerged at Westminster last week of plans for a new centre party containing elements of all main political groupings between May’s Brexiteer Tories and Labour’s Corbynistas.
Umunna and Soubry scoff at the idea that they could be part of such a movement of ‘moderate’ elements of the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem parties.
That is not how it will seem to some when they take centre stage at the rally today, together with Layla Moran, a Lib Dem MP and rising star in the party.
Chuka and Anna’s alliance is certainly a novel political marriage – ‘apart from the fact that I am 20 years older; he’s married and I’m in a relationship!’ roars Soubry.