Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party leader Ruth Davidson has suggested an increased Tory majority could disempower “Brexiteer bastards” currently holding Theresa May “to ransom”, possibly opening the door to a watered-down exit deal.
In an exchange reported by The Telegraph, Davidson claimed the current parliamentary arithmetic “allows a very small cohort of people to influence the debate in a way that might be unrepresentative of a wider Conservative party and wider mood within the country,” referring to Brexit-backing MPs.
“I think if the party is returned with a healthier majority, it gives her the freedom to make decisions in the best interests of the country without having to pay a penalty in terms of people within either the Conservative Party or outwith trying to put undue pressure on her.”
Davidson referred to the experiences of former Conservative Prime Minister John Major, who called some of his Cabinet ministers “bastards” due to opposition over the EU, noting that Sir John was forced to pass complex EU deals with a small majority in the House of Commons.
Pressed on whether or not an influx of compliant and pliable new MPs could stop the Prime Minister from being held to “ransom” by “Brexiteer bastards”, the 38-year-old said: “I’m not disagreeing with you.”
By-Election Rules https://t.co/i9x3Ox2BOL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 20, 2017
Davidson’s statements would seem to align her with party Europhiles such as Anna Soubry MP, who also believes that “a bigger majority will enable the PM to see off the Hard Brexiteers”.
This view was summed up by Ryan Shorthouse, director of the “liberal conservative” think tank Bright Blue, in a Guardian article suggesting a Tory triumph on June 8th will “allow [Theresa May] to pursue a softer Brexit with more compromises, freed from a troublesome Right-wing on the backbenches [which is] currently calling the shots thanks to a slim majority.”
Davidson herself has penned an article for Times Red Box titled ‘A stable May government will ensure a better Brexit’, in fact, but she was unclear on what this might entail.
— Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) April 19, 2017
Davidson was an ardent Remainer during the referendum, appearing alongside Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady and London Mayor Sadiq Khan as the campaign’s official representatives in the BBC’s set-piece Great Debate shortly before the vote.
After the public backed Brexit, she was counted amongst those Tories determined to retain as many trappings of EU membership as possible. “I want to stay in the Single Market … even if a consequence of that is maintaining Free Movement of Labour,” she said.
She was accused of a “shameless” attempt to “rewrite history” when she later rowed back from this position – although her recent comments surrounding “Brexiteer bastards” hint that she may yet believe that a clean Brexit can be avoided.