Brexit now ‘in serious danger’: Widdecombe warns Rejoiners ‘licking lips’ over new EU plot
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The former Tory minister and Brexit Party MEP was speaking after a dramatic morning which saw the Prime Minister capitulate to demands for him to quit, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid triggering a string of Cabinet resignations. Mr Johnson has endured a turbulent few months, having been fined as a result of attending a lockdown-busting birthday party at Number 10, and fiercely criticised over his handling of the appointment of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher, who quit his role in the midst of allegations of sexual assault.
He confirmed his decision in a statement issued in front of Number 10 in which he lamented his inability to persuade party colleagues to offer him a stay of execution, while pledging to serve as Prime Minister until his successor as leader was selected.
Ms Widdecombe, who served in various roles including Minister of State for Prisons and Minister of State for Employment in Sir John Major’s Government, was concerned about what his decision meant for the decision of the British people six years ago.
She told Express.co.uk: “As for Brexit, it is now in serious danger on the basis that if they don’t get a Brexiteer, I think we are going to see closer ties with the European Union.
“Just look at the line-up. Tom Tugendhat is a Remainer – he did not just say on balance we should stay in, he was totally convinced.”
Asked about her preferred candidate, Ms Widdecombe added: “The only real Brexiteer is Rishi. Steve Baker is not going to be PM and while Liz Truss is extremely competent she’s not a leader.
“Rishi’s brand has been damaged but he is at least a Brexiteer. I think he’s a lousy Chancellor, we’ve had no tax cuts, we’ve had nothing imaginative, he hasn’t used Brexit to take VAT of fuel but if I want Brexit then I suppose I want Rishi.”
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They see this as their chance to ditch Brexit. We’re in a mess
Ms Widdecombe also referred to remarks by Tory MP for Bournemouth Tobias Ellwood’s suggestion that rejoining the EU’s single market could help ease the UK’s cost of living crisis.
She said: “Remainer are licking their lips – they’ve said so. Tobias Ellwood said it recently, ‘if Boris goes Brexit can go’; Heseltine’s been all over the news.
“They see this as their chance to ditch Brexit. We’re in a mess.
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“When it comes to sorting out Northern Ireland, I can see them making big concessions to the EU and that is real trouble.
“I think they could pull the plug on this Northern Ireland Protocol Bill for a start.”
Despite Ms Widdecombe’s comments, the Government has nevertheless confirmed dates for when the remaining stages of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will be debated in the Commons.
Commons Leader Mark Spencer confirmed the first day of the committee stage of the Bill would take place on Wednesday, July 13.
He later said there were provisional plans for the second day of the committee on Monday, July 18, with plans to conclude the committee stage of the Bill on Tuesday, July 19.
Mr Johnson made his reluctance to resign crystal-clear during his statement, saying he had sought to stay on because he believed it was his “obligation” to continue to do what the Tories promised in 2019.
Addressing the British public, he said: “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.
“I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019, many of them voting Conservative for the first time, thank you for that incredible mandate, the biggest Conservative majority since 1987, the biggest share of the vote since 1979.
“And the reason I have fought so hard in the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person was not just because I wanted to do so, but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019.
“And of course, I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this Government.”
He also risked the wrath of the Parliamentary Party by blaming what he termed “the herd instinct” for his downfall.
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