The incoming Prime Minister Theresa May must deliver a clean break with the European Union (EU) if she is to unite the Conservative party and restore public faith in British politics, Iain Duncan Smith has warned.
Discussing the challenges which lay ahead for the new Prime Minister in an article for The Telegraph, the former Tory leader and senior Leave campaigner has called on Mrs. May to unite the Conservative party and the country following the fall-out from the referendum campaign, to take the UK out of the EU, and to rebalance the economy to deliver social justice through a Conservative agenda.
Above all, Mr. Duncan Smith’s article makes it clear that the voice of the people heard on June 23, must not now be silenced by a Conservative leader who voted to remain in the EU.
The referendum was, Mr. Duncan Smith said, “frankly, a bitter and divisive contest, as all over the country friends were torn apart in the fierce heat of the debate.
“The result, while clear, was also a warning to the political class inhabiting the self-satisfied bubble of Westminster. In far too many communities, miles from Westminster, people feel tossed aside and voiceless when they raise real concerns about the quality of their lives, such as their limited access to poor services, and about how immigration has driven down their pay.
“Their anger is well‑founded, as we witnessed from the reaction of a small but vociferous metropolitan elite, which immediately dismissed them as too old, too poor and too stupid – and even demanded another referendum.”
The task before Mrs. May is now to assuage that anger by delivering on her promise to take the country out of the EU, Mr. Duncan Smith said.
“’Leave must mean leave’ is an easy phrase, but to achieve it there needs to be some substance to our red lines and, importantly, a clear idea of the process by which we will implement the decision of the British people,” he warned.
He has helpfully offered his colleague a broad red baseline for her negotiating position, insisting that “Leave means simply no longer being subject to European law.”
From this, it follows that “we take back control of our borders, our overseas trade arrangements, and the money we at present send to the European Union.”
Mr. Duncan Smith made it plain that a fudged negotiation which leaves the UK neither in nor out of the EU will not be tolerated, stating: “It is worth remembering that the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit voted for a clean break and not a negotiated confusion.”
Mr. Duncan Smith had backed Andrea Leadsom, Mrs. May’s final opponent in the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Mrs. Leadsom bowed out of that race yesterday after being subject to a vicious smear campaign over the weekend, primarily by The Times newspaper.
Mrs. Leadsom was accused of having suggested that motherhood gave her an edge over her colleague – an accusation which she has denied.
Mr. Duncan Smith described the campaign against Mrs. Leadsom as “brutal” and “low”, even by Westminster standards, and her subsequent departure as “painful”.
“The Andrea Leadsom I and many in Parliament know is a decent, hard-working and compassionate woman,” he said.
“More than most, she has dedicated much of her time to helping children from difficult backgrounds by setting up a national charity. I deeply regret that these attributes were tossed aside, as low and personal politics took over.”
The leadership race, sparked by the resignation of David Cameron following the announcement of the referendum result on June 24, was marked by a debate over whether the incoming Prime Minister should come from the Leave or Remain camp.
Prominent Leave campaigner Michael Gove, whose own leadership bid came to an end in the ballot of MPs last Thursday, insisted that the role must go to someone who had backed Brexit.
“I believe that the next Prime Minister has to be on the winning side of (the) argument. Put simply, the best person to lead Britain out of the European Union is someone who argued to get Britain out,” he argued on July 1.
But his colleague William Hague, who had backed Remain disagreed, argued that Conservatives “are all Leavers now”:
“Within the Conservative Party, the result of June 23 is accepted as settling the issue, albeit not the considerable question of how to implement it. It is inconceivable that the next leader and Prime Minister can now lead the party in any other direction than one of carrying out the mandate to leave,” he insisted.