Former Conservative Member of Parliament Douglas Carswell, who just three weeks ago hinted at a possible return to the Tory party, used his position as a UKIP MP last night to advocate so-called soft Brexit.
Speaking at an event hosted by the left-wing Guardian newspaper on Tuesday night, Mr. Carswell told the audience Brexit “does not mean Nigel Farage’s vision of Brexit” and said he wanted a “new national consensus”.
Sitting with Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, who shot to prominence in 2014 after tweeting out snobbish comments about the homes of voters she canvassed during a by-election, and anti-Brexit legal challenger Gina Miller, Mr. Carswell said: “We need to draw people together.”
Attacking plans to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union following this year’s successful referendum, the combative UKIP MP, who has spent most of his time in the party sparring with former leader Nigel Farage, said: “The referendum was quite divisive … [but] the poll was actually relatively close.
“I’ve argued consistently that that means no one has carte blanche to rewrite things the way they want to rewrite them.”
His comments place him effectively in cahoots with colleagues in the House of Commons, with dozens of Labour and Conservative MPs advocating a so-called soft Brexit where Britain would continue to pay into the EU to remain a member of the single market. Labour’s Kier Starmer spoke out yesterday setting out Labour’s plan for Brexit, remarking: “Put simply, Labour will push for a Brexit model which maintains and protects our ability to successfully trade goods and deliver services with and to the EU.”
He also said the Labour party would fight the government if it attempted to force “hard Brexit”. Yet that challenge may be unlikely given many members of the government are also leaning towards a transitional soft Brexit as well, with senior members like Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond also advocating such a plan yesterday.
Continuing to align himself with forces conspiring to derail Brexit rather than advancing it, Mr. Carswell yesterday also praised fellow Guardian panel discussion member Gina Miller for her stand against Theresa May’s plan to trigger Article 50. He said: “I admire Gina for what she is doing. It takes a certain something to put your head above the parapet on an issue like this.”
Mr. Carswell’s continued distancing himself from UKIP’s core mission and well regarded members of the party like Mr. Farage may fuel speculation that he intends to return to the Conservative party, for which he campaigned and served for over ten years. As reported by Breitbart London in November, Mr. Carswell had softened his denials that he would rejoin the Conservatives, offering a noncommittal rebuttal rather than a hard refusal.
While he criticised Mr. Farage’s vision of Brexit last night, Mr. Carswell did take the time to praise Conservative leader and Prime Minister Theresa May, saying she was “pretty good” and her leadership was “so far, so good”.
A new book by political journalist Owen Bennett released in October claimed Mr. Carswell had defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in a bid to “neutralise” Mr. Farage and wreck the pro-Brexit campaign, and that he had done so in collaboration with the assistance of fellow Conservative politicians. Mr. Farage said at the time the revelations “confirmed” that Carswell “joined UKIP to split the party”.