Conservative sources believe the prime minister will put a “triple lock” on Brexit in the Tory manifesto, promising voters to leave the single market and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and end freedom of movement.
Yesterday, Tory Remainers including Anna Soubry and the party’s leader in Scotland said a bigger Parliamentary majority after the election would allow Theresa May, un-beholden to the right of her party, to push for a “soft Brexit”.
The manifesto pledges, however, could make it harder for anti-Brexit MPs – and Lords in particular – to disrupt Brexit and push for what they call a “soft Brexit”.
One insider, speaking to the Daily Mail, said pro-European Union (EU) Conservatives would be forced to sign up to the package, “locking them in”.
The Tory source told the paper: “All Conservative candidates will have to stand on the manifesto – it will lock them in and provide a much stronger mandate. It will also send a message to the House of Lords that they cannot get in the way.”
Setting out her “Brexit prospectus”, Mrs. May made her priorities clear. “When people voted to leave the EU they did vote to end free movement as it has been – they voted for us to have control of our laws so we are not subject to the ECJ.”
“We will be ensuring we negotiate the best possible deal with the EU – a deal which will cover the various issues that people are really concerned about in terms of ensuring control of our borders, control of our laws, control of our money,” she said.
Critics, however, point out that past Tory election pledges to bring immigration below 100,000, and Mrs. May’s strong words on the issue during her time as home secretary, failed to transpire in reality.
“What’s really interesting is this prime minister gives fabulous speeches,” said former UKIP leader Nigel Farage on BBC Radio 4 Thursday morning.
“I mean, she uses words and phrases that I have been using and been condemned for, for 20 years. And it all sounds wonderful,” he continued, questioning “what terms” the UK would actually leave the EU on.
“You know, when she was home secretary, remember, she was going to reduce immigration. Did she? Not a bit of it,” Mr. Farage added.
Others, however, say the manifesto pledges will tie Mrs. May’s hands to a ‘hard Brexit’ and make it almost impossible for unelected Lords to stand in the way.
According to the so-called Salisbury Convention, the Lords are not supposed to block manifesto pledges. They can amend and block them for up to a year, however, and the Liberal Democrats have rejected the convention.
Tory grandee Sir Desmond Swayne said Wednesday: “The policy the Prime Minister announced, of pursuing a general election and securing a mandate in this house and a mandate to bind the other place to the Salisbury convention, is therefore essential.”
Dominic Raab, a former Tory justice minister, also welcomed the plan, telling the Daily Mail: “It is a sensible move, which is consistent with the pledges the PM has made.
“It’s important to make sure we get the strongest possible mandate to deliver the best deal with our European friends.”