Michael Gove’s former advisor Henry Newman has said the Prime Minister could still convince MPs to back her Brexit deal.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Mike Graham, the Open Europe director admitted it sounded “completely ridiculous” to suggest the withdrawal agreement would return after last night’s heavy defeat.
However he said the fact that Theresa May had managed to secure the support of key Brexiteer last night suggests more Eurosceptic MPs could be persuaded to vote with her.
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Mr Newman said: “We focus on the big numbers but she managed to persuade about 40 MPs to move over and back the deal.
“Crucially David Davis, the former Brexit secretary who literally resigned over the direction of her Brexit policy, is now saying he’s happy with this and this delivers a Brexit he can live with, that’s very important.”
Labour MPs ‘could support free vote’
Ted Heath was persuaded to offer a free vote on Britain's entry into the EEC in 1971.
Mr Newman also suggested that several Labour MPs could be persuaded to support the deal if the Prime Minister managed to attract the support of Conservative and DUP MPs.
He said Mrs May should put the bill forward as a ‘free vote’, as Ted Heath had done in October 1971 when Parliament voted to join the EEC.
Mr Newman said: “I think there are many Labour MPs, a few dozen, who don’t want to stop Brexit, who are not totally happy with this deal but want to respect the referendum.
“Can we find a way to assuage their concerns and persuade them that this deal is the best thing to do?
“One thing she might do is go ultimately for a free vote, which will make it feel like less of a big political hit to their own party to vote for the deal.”