James Forsyth

May’s speech is a message to Brexiteers: compromise

May's speech is a message to Brexiteers: compromise
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One of the aims of Theresa May’s resignation statement was to try and shape the Brexit debate in the Tory party ahead of the forthcoming leadership contest. Her decision to emphasise the need to find consensus in parliament was a clear pop at those such as Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom who have accused her of compromising too much. Though the irony of this is that May didn’t level with her party in 2017 on what her loss of the Tory majority meant for Brexit, and what could be achieved.

Equally telling was that May didn’t talk at all about her successor going to Brussels and seeking changes from the EU. May clearly believes that the solution to this impasse will have to be found at Westminster.

But nearly every candidate in this coming contest will talk about trying to obtain changes to the withdrawal agreement. Some will set out a Plan B if they can’t get that. But others will emphasise that a PM prepared to put no deal back on the table will be able to wring concessions out of Brussels.

The current mood among the Tory membership means that anyone who makes the final two will have to be prepared to say that they will get changes to the withdrawal agreement. I would wager that May’s successor will head to Brussels and try and obtain changes to the Brexit deal before October 31.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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