Wednesday, February 21

Tories facing EU election wipe-out



The Commons will get a new vote on a customs union in a few weeks in order to try to break the Brexit deadlock, amid warnings that Theresa May’s Conservatives are walking into a wipe-out in the European elections.

Veteran MP Frank Field told the Standard that he plans to move a motion with the Father of the House, Kenneth Clarke, to show that a smooth trading bloc is a solution that commands cross-party support.

Mr Field said a backbencher-led move would also get Mrs May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn off the hook of having to sign a formal compromise deal that could trigger civil war in their parties.

I think if it comes from the backbenches, neither of the party leaders can be accused of dividing their parties. I would be confident of getting it through, he said.

Mr Field’s move came as polls showed Tory support plunging following Mrs May’s decision to allow European elections to go ahead if she fails to get her thrice-rejected withdrawal agreement through the Commons.

A YouGov survey found the Tories down to 28 per cent in Westminster elections and 16 per cent in the European contest.

The threat to the Conservatives was even cited in the European Parliament this morning as a factor that could save the EU from the poison of the Brexit shambles by forcing Mrs May to rip up her red lines and accept a compromise.

Senior MEP Guy Verhofstadt criticised the delay to Brexit, saying: The pressure to come to a cross-party agreement over Brexit is now gone. The proof of this? The first thing the House of Commons did after last week’s extension was to go on holiday.

He warned: I fear most of all that it will import the Brexit mess into the European Union. And moreover that it will poison the upcoming European election.