The Conservative party will face “extinction” unless it satisfies Brexit Party voters’ desire for a hard withdrawal from the EU, a senior MP has warned amid suggestions of a Tory pact with Nigel Farage’s outfit.
Arch-Eurosceptic Steve Baker called for a “reconciliation” between the parties after his Tory colleague, the former minister Crispin Blunt, urged an electoral pact with the Brexit Party.
It came as Theresa May was warned by a member of the Tories’ 1922 committee executive that she could face moves to oust her as soon as Thursday if she does not set a date for her departure.
“The Conservatives are almost certainly going to have to go into some kind of electoral arrangement with the Brexit Party, otherwise Brexit doesn’t happen,” says Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, but he refrains from suggesting a coalition government
The prime minister’s leadership is hanging by a thread with EU withdrawal delayed until October 31 and talks on a cross-party deal with Labour making little progress.
The situation has angered Leavers and left the Tories facing a mauling in the May 23 European elections, with Farage’s Brexit Party topping some opinion polls as the main beneficiaries.
It prompted Blunt to call for a general election pact with Farage if the Tories elect a Brexiteer to replace May.
Meanwhile, other Tories criticised Blunt, saying that his suggestion of a pact with the Brexit Party was “so much the wrong response it’s hard to know where to start”.
The unnamed moderate MP went on: “A no-deal Brexit doesn’t command a consensus and it seems a customs union will struggle too but also long term appealing to the Brexit Party does nothing to renew our voter base – ever!”
Paul Scully, Conservative vice-chair for London, said: “A deal is too simplistic and doesn’t take into account the detail of how we leave and the parliamentary arithmetic that we face.”
But Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said it was impossible to predict the dynamics of the next election when there was still so much uncertainty over Brexit.
It came after 13 former ministers and 1922 chair Sir Graham Brady wrote to May warning her she will split the party if she concedes to Labour’s demands for a customs union.