Nick Boles hits out at Theresa May for trying to 'out Brexit' campaigners

PUBLISHED: 08:30 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 16 April 2019

MP Nick Boles speaking in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons.

MP Nick Boles speaking in the House of Commons. Photograph: House of Commons.

PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May made a "moral error" by backing a "hardline" approach to Brexit, former Tory minister Nick Boles said.

The MP, who sits as an independent after quitting the Conservative Party, said the prime minister was seeking to be “more Brexity” than Brexit campaigners in her approach to leaving the European Union.

Boles, who has been pushing for the UK to stay closely tied to the EU's single market and customs union, told The House magazine he had been surprised by May's approach to Brexit.

Boles said he had expected May's “inflexibility and her inability to communicate” but “if you'd asked me I would have been surprised to find her opting to back the hardline ideological version of Brexit”.

He said: “She's not a naturally ideological person, she's not a right-wing person, and I would have thought that she would have gone for something much more moderate and pragmatic.”

He suggested she may have been influenced by her aides, but was also compensating for not having been a Brexit campaigner during the referendum.

“She persuaded herself she needed to be more Brexity than Brexiters, more Brexiter than thou,” he said.

“It was a massive, not just a miscalculation, but a moral error. One that has come to determine and define everything that's happened since.”

Boles, who signalled that he would not stand for re-election, said “this is my swansong, I'm on my way out”.

He said that Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson was his “perfect candidate” to replace May, adding “she's not available, but whoever can come closest to Ruth, both in terms of political views but also in terms of personal presence and charisma and authenticity, that for me would be the best outcome, both for the Conservative Party and for the country”.

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