FORMER Conservative Party leader William Hague has sounded a dire warning to Tory rebels looking to sink Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal and oust her as Prime Minister, saying to do so would effectively hand Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10. Mr Hague made his appeal during a week in which Mrs May is at the centre of frenzied speculation about her political future, and widespread speculation about a possible leadership contest, which would be triggered if 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady received the 48 letters of no confidence required. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: “I have lived through more crises in British politics than I care to remember, but I have never witnessed one as serious as this.”
He painted a gloomy picture of the possible outcomes of getting Mrs May, stressing the extremely short time frame, given the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
Even a new leader was in place by January, Mr Hague said the deadline of January 21 – after which Parliament debates other options – would mean Britain would need to ask for a delay to the original deadline – a request which would likely be refused by Brussels.
He said: “Their reply would amount to: “Your country set the date, not us.
“”If your are considering abandoning Brexit, by all means delay.
If not, and you are looking to renegotiate the deal we’ve struck, we can’t help you.””
As a result he argued the new Prime Minister would be stuck with two equally unpalatable choices – telling the Commons Mrs May’s deal was the best available, or encouraging a no-deal Brexit.
The first would lead to Britain being “the laughing stock of the world”, while the second would inevitably mean a general election in which Labour would be in “a highly advantageous position”, Mr Hague, who led his party to defeat in the 2001, vote, said.
In such an election, Mr Corbyn would only be able to keep his own party together, and seal victory, by promising a second referendum.
Mr Hague said: “The nation would then have to endure all the bitterness and trauma of that, but with Marxists in power at the same time.
“The events of last week have already significantly raised the chances of a Labour government coming to power, with more serious consequences for confidence in Britain than any form of Brexit.”
Any leader taking over from Mrs May would face an uphill battle to unite a deeply divided party, Mr Hague said, with there being simply no time in which to do so.
He said: “They would not inherit an obedient army, easily instructed to turn about and march in a different direction.
“Instead they would reap the consequences of many of their colleagues feeling aggrieved and owing them nothing.
“Who, in any case, is this magical unifying candidate?”
Mr Hague also urged Conservative MPs to “draw back from making matters worse”, rather than plotting against Mrs May.