William Hague said it is time for the Conservatives to build on the Brexit momentum
After the Prime Minister failed to win a majority in the 2017 General Election, she has endured a constant stream of derision and disrespect “accompanied by almost daily forecasts of her imminent political doom”, according to the former Tory leader.
But, now Theresa May has secured an agreement on the first phase of the Brexit negotiations with trade talks set to start in 2018, she has “united” her Party and it is time for her to take the fight to Labour, according to Mr Hague.
He said: “If Conservatives can advance on all these fronts, they can then do what is always a good idea in politics: to take the war to the enemy.
“Labour’s position on Brexit is a shifting shambles, based only on being softer than whatever is the Government’s stance. The result is that they now want to pay the EU more than is being contemplated without fully controlling our borders, which would betray millions of their own voters.”
He also warns against a new radicalised Labour Party which has shifted from being “centre-left” to being “anti-semitic” and based on “hatred”.
He added: “Far worse than that, however, is the steady takeover of what was a centre-Left party by supporters of a hardened ideology, utterly hostile to creating wealth and defending the Western world, based on hatred of success and flirting with a shameful anti-Semitism.”
The former Foreign Secretary also touts Mrs May’s “achievements” with Brexit negotiations, despite speculation the Government would not reach an agreement by December.
Writing in The Telegraph, he continued: “So her achievement last week – for achievement it was – of pulling off the first stage of a deal to leave the European Union merits a reappraisal of her performance in office and a pause for breath on the part of her critics.
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“Even detractors should note that last week she played the trickiest of hands with skill.
“She pulled back from an agreement when faced with an unexpected obstacle from the DUP, but had the decisiveness to push ahead with it in a revised form without thinking she had to satisfy every single objector about every detail.
“She showed the correct and necessary combination of flexibility and firmness in a complex negotiation.”
He added: “And by broadly uniting her own party behind a transition deal and a budgetary settlement with Brussels over recent months, while still faithfully working to deliver Brexit, she has acted in the national interest.”
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He also argues it “adds up to a job well done” and the Government has had a few weeks where it has been on “surer footing”.
He admits that any moment next year there could be an “avalanche of events, as happened this year”.
But, he thinks this could be used to the Conservatives advantage to “carefully pick its way to a more commanding political position”.
Talking about how the Party could build momentum on the “Brexit success”, he said: “The first task in doing so is to build quickly on the momentum created in the Brexit negotiations.”
He said this also extends to members of the Party who are divided on Brexit should talk about what unites them rather than what divides them as “all of them believe the result of the referendum should be honoured”.
Theresa May has recently secured the next phase of Brexit negotiations to start in 2018
Remainers within the Conservatives have not joined the Liberal Democrats or the SNP in wanting the UK to adopt a “Norway style Brexit” and they want a more ambitious trade deal than that between the EU and Canada.
He said: “Even ardent Brexiteers have to accept that much of our manufacturing industry will have little interest in having different product standards than the rest of the Continent.
“Equally, ministers who were strongly for Remain would have to accept that it is positively desirable to decide on our agricultural subsidies and unthinkable to allow Britain’s massive financial services industry to have its regulations set exclusively outside this country.
“It should be perfectly possible for a Cabinet with such views to come up with a range of options they would settle for in the key talks with the EU Commission in the months ahead. At the same time, they have announcements or improvements in other areas of policy to build on.”
Mr Hague said the Labour Party is based on ‘hatred’
He said there is also the “case for a limited reshuffle” to bring on the future talent of the Tory Party.
But, he discounts himself in this reshuffle as he has “mentally moved on” and it is important to bring in new MPs.
Speaking about his last view on how to beat Labour, he concluded: “Beating them will require much clarity of vision. But it begins with the steady plod of competent and effective government. In the last few weeks, it’s been good to hear the sound of it.”