The only way out of this Brexit logjam is a General Election — and Tories will need a rapid leadership contest

The only way out of this Brexit logjam is a General Election — and Tories will need a rapid leadership contest

MPs could have voted to take back control, instead they decided to hand control to the EU.
The country has voted to leave the EU, but this Parliament cannot agree on a way for us to get out — which is why a General Election is becoming more likely by the day.
Our take on Theresa May’s final throw of the Brexit dice – calling a general election
Yesterday the Commons voted down the Withdrawal Agreement that would have taken us out of the EU.
As a result, the EU Council will meet on April 10 to decide whether to offer the UK a further extension or not. It remains unlikely that the EU will force a No Deal outcome on the UK.
But any extension they offer the UK is going to involve this country taking part in the European Elections.
On Monday, MPs will vote again on various Brexit options. Last time, none of the eight options got a majority. But there is a chance that this time something will.
The options that might get a majority, though, would go directly against what the Tories said in their election manifesto.
Could a Government really seek to negotiate something that was directly contradictory to its manifesto? This is the question preoccupying Cabinet ministers this weekend.
If something does get a majority, Mrs May might choose to ask the House to choose between it and her deal.
But the most obvious alternative to it would be a GENERAL ELECTION.
If a customs union is what wins on Monday, the call is the most finely balanced.
Negotiating one would, in the words of a Cabinet minister, “be an enormous breach” of the Tory manifesto. But fighting a whole Election on a customs union would be hard, if not impossible.
“You might want it to be a single-issue Election,” this Cabinet minister admits. “But it is going to cover a multitude of sins.”
For this reason, he concludes that a “surprisingly small number of Cabinet members would have the courage to say, ‘go for an Election’.”
Getty Images – Getty There’s a huge problem for the Tories with an Election: Who would lead them into it?

Brexit chaos as MPs reject PM’s EU withdrawal agreement for a third time by 344 votes by 286 – a majority of 58
But if any of the other options wins, it is simpler for the Tories. Opposing a second referendum or single market membership — which would leave the UK as a rule taker and not end free movement — are clear electoral positions. Yesterday’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement allows the Tories to attack Labour MPs in Leave-supporting seats for blocking Brexit, on Brexit Day.
There is, though, a huge problem for the Tories with an Election: WHO WOULD LEAD THEM INTO IT?
Mrs May’s commitment was to step down if her deal passed. But despite this, her fighting an Election when she has promised to go as soon as the deal is through would risk looking absurd.
Voters would, understandably, ask who the Tories were planning to have as PM for the rest of the Parliament, and what their plans were for taxes and public services, as well as Brexit.
This means the Tories would have to have a rapid leadership contest and the winner would then have to take them straight into the Election. There are problems with this. The victor would have little time to reunite the party, develop a domestic agenda and introduce themselves to the country before hitting the campaign trail.
But things wouldn’t be easy for Labour, either. It would have to have a clear Brexit position. Does it want a second referendum or a softer Brexit?
PA:Press Association As to Labour – it would have to have a clear position: Does it want a second referendum or a softer Brexit?
What is clear is that the uncertainty holding this country back needs to end.
If it hadn’t been for the constitutional meddling of the coalition government, there would be a clear answer to this problem: Mrs May would have made the vote on her deal a confidence vote, meaning a General Election if it was defeated. This would probably have got the deal through.
But it is now becoming increasingly hard to see how this logjam can be broken without a General Election.Leading question for the Tories
THE Tory party doesn’t yet know what kind of leader it needs. If it is going to be pitched into an early election, as looks increasingly likely, it needs a very different kind of leader to what is required if this Parliament is going to 2022.
PA:Press Association Is Boris Johnson the best to renegotiate the Brexit deal AND sell Toryism to the next generation?
The problem for the Tories in this contest is – as one of the few Cabinet ministers with no leadership ambitions points out – they are trying to answer three very different questions.
WHO would negotiate the best future relationship with the EU?
WHO can give the Tories back a sense of domestic policy purpose?
And WHO is best placed to sell Toryism to a new generation?
The answer to these questions is not the same. That’s why there is so much talk of dream tickets. Which of Boris Johnson or Michael Gove will win Amber Rudd’s endorsement?
And will Penny Mordaunt take the No2 slot on Jeremy Hunt’s ticket?
Organisation is key to winning Tory leadership elections and one minister who is being courted by several campaigns tells me the “only people who have got good parliamentary operations are Hunt and (Dominic) Raab”.
Sajid Javid, the former frontrunner, is still losing momentum. But his chance comes from the fact that all the other candidates are flawed too.
And MPs might be prepared to give him a second look once they have kicked the tyres on the other options. Javid, the son of a first-generation Pakistani immigrant bus driver, has a story to tell.
There is, though, an increasing sense among Tory MPs that there is a case for going for someone outside the current Cabinet, who isn’t tainted by the current mess.
Given the scale of the challenge facing the country, it would be hard to skip a generation to a Johnny Mercer or a James Cleverly, or any other member of the 2015 intake.
But until the Tories know whether this will be a flat race or a steeplechase, they are unlikely to choose a horse to back.
A new PM may shake it all DUP
WITHOUT the DUP, it is pretty much impossible for Theresa May to pass her Brexit deal.
But her problem is they are moving towards the view that a softer Brexit is better for them.
PA:Press Association A General Election wouldn’t suit the DUP, as they want to hold the balance of power
I am told they are worried about the PM going and a new leader coming in and opting for an early election.
One of those who has been trying to persuade them to back the deal tells me: “They have a massive issue with all the other candidates. They’ve worked out the ERG are not fanatical Unionists.”
But any Tory PM is likely to pick a general election over a soft Brexit.
A rapid General Election wouldn’t suit the DUP, as it could result in them no longer holding the balance of power in Parliament.
CommentTHE SUN SAYS We’re BREXSICK of MPs — shame on them for betraying the will of 17.4m Brits CommentMERVYN KING Our incompetent MPs don’t get it — Brexit is not about the economy, stupid CommentLORRAINE KELLY Tom Cruise’s son may regret not inviting Nicole Kidman to his wedding CommentLeo McKinstry How did we allow these narrow-minded bigots to say DUP yours to Brexit? CommentKARREN BRADY You’re in for a treat with Celebrity Apprentice — it’s worth the ten-year wait
Hard to take Soft choice
THE delay to Brexit is bad enough. A second referendum, before the result of the first has even been implemented, would add insult to injury.But what would be totally unacceptable would be for Parliament to only offer voters a choice between a soft Brexit and Remain.
Universal News & Sport (Europe) The House of Commons voted down Theresa May’s deal and all other alternatives
Yet that is expected to be one of the options Parliament votes on come Monday: A customs union with a confirmatory referendum.
‘Soft will tear us apart’TORY MPs had a free vote on a customs union this week.
With the Cabinet abstaining, only 11 per cent of Tory MPs backed a customs union. That is less than the number of Tory MPs you need to trigger a leadership contest.
It is a sign that, as one senior party figure tells me: “You cannot have a soft Brexit and an intact Conservative Party.”


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