Tories write to Theresa May urging a Brexit 'pause'

PUBLISHED: 16:26 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 11 February 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the rear entrance of Downing Street, London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the rear entrance of Downing Street, London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A group of anti-Brexit Conservative MPs and peers have written to the prime minister asking for a meeting to discuss their call for Brexit to be delayed.

The Right to Vote group includes former attorney general Dominic Grieve and ex-ministers Phillip Lee, Sam Gyimah and Guto Bebb who quit Theresa May’s Government to fight for a second referendum.

In their letter to May, they said it is clear the UK is “not ready to leave” on the scheduled date of March 29.

They urged the PM to pause the process to give politicians and voters the time to consider whether her proposed deal - or the prospect of departure without a deal - is in the national interest.

Describing themselves as “patriotic, pragmatic Conservatives”, they requested an urgent meeting with the PM, noting that she had made time to speak to pro-Brexit MPs on a number of occasions.

With fewer than 50 days until the UK is due to leave the EU, parliament is in “gridlock” over Brexit, the letter’s signatories said.

“We are now effectively faced with the stark reality between a devastating no deal, for which the country would rightly never forgive us, and a compromise which virtually no-one on any side of the argument is happy with,” they wrote.

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“Every day there is more news of companies not committing to the UK - or worse, moving their operations abroad. The potential economic harm this deal will cause should further focus our minds.”

The signatories said the Government’s own figures suggest the PM’s deal could lead to the economy shrinking by 4%, risking jobs and prosperity.

“Whatever your view on Brexit itself, everyone can now see that we are not ready to leave on March 29,” they told the PM.

“It’s not just businesses but families too that are now being impacted by the uncertainty. This is not Project Fear, it is Operation Reality.

“As you have said repeatedly, we do not want a ‘disorderly’ Brexit. We should not be inflicting one on our country.

“Given all of this, we are urging you and the government to take a breath, to take a minute and give us all time to consider whether this proposed deal, or however it is adjusted, is really in our best interests.

“This is not just about dotting the Is or crossing the Ts, this is about giving the nation time to consider what is a monumental decision for us all.

“Before we sign on the dotted line, we need to pause and think about what the implications of this deal could be - as any of us would with any other major decision in our lives.”

The signatories - who also include former minister Lord Willetts and Baroness Altmann - urged Mrs May not to allow “the fear of delay” to push her to lead the UK into “the worst possible outcome”.

“We should take time to resolve this impasse,” they said.

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