Former Tory minister claims Brexiteers have ‘no interest’ in unifying the nation ahead of Brexit

PUBLISHED: 13:19 07 September 2020

Former Tory minister Ed Vaizey on Politics Live; Politics Live, BBC

Former Tory minister Ed Vaizey on Politics Live; Politics Live, BBC

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A former Tory minister has questioned Boris Johnson’s election commitment to “unite our society and country”, saying the Brexiteers are not interested in uniting the nation ahead of Brexit.

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Ed Vaizey, a minister in David Cameron’s cabinet between 2010 and 2016, said the Brexit referendum result had been too close to justify a hard Brexit.

The former communications minister appeared on the BBC’s Politics Live show saying he disagreed with how his ex colleagues were handling Brexit trade negotiations amid reports Boris Johnson is planning to tear up the Withdrawal Agreement.

“I’ve never understood the rhetoric that’s been adopted since the day of Brexit,” Vaizey said.

“I’ve never understood why Brexiteers, the victors, haven’t sought to reconcile and unite the country and I don’t understand why we keep using this slightly bonkers language where we try and make it that it’s some kind of fight to the death with our previous European partners.”

He added: “We were in the EU for more than forty years. I don’t know whether it’s setting it up for a blame game but we know more likely than not there will be utter chaos on the borders in the new year.

“Maybe they [Brexiteers] want a narrative that says ‘we tried our best but these perfidious Brussels people refuse to play ball with us’.”

Madeline Grant, a commentator at The Telegraph, said she was confident a deal was still possible and that Boris Johnson’s threats to leave talks by mid-October was the government trying to flex is negotiating muscle.

“I agree that the language can seem a little overblown,” she said, “in particular given it’s typically accompanied the following day by talk of our ‘beloved’ partners of the EU so it doesn’t make a great deal of sense.”

She added; “Just remember what happened last autumn, there was a lot of sabre-rattling and rhetoric going up but ultimately when it got down to the wire, both sides ended in agreement and I suspect this is what we’re heading towards this time.”

Johnson at the last general election told the public: “Now is the time to unite our society and unite our country”.

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