Watch: Andrew Bridgen vs Daniel Finkelstein

Watch: Andrew Bridgen vs Daniel Finkelstein
Text settings

As Theresa May reaffirmed her commitment to strike a softer Brexit deal with Labour over the weekend, and Yvette Cooper's bill attempting to block no-deal Brexit passes through the Lords, leading Brexiteers stepped up their war against Theresa May.

This afternoon ERG member Mark Francois, in a strongly worded letter to Graham Brady, called for 'indicative votes' of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Joining him was fellow Eurosceptic Andrew Bridgen, who on Politics Live said 'Theresa May needs to go and go now.'

Less impressed with the proclamation though was Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein, who pointed out that after a failed bid to oust May in December, the ERG didn't have the ability to remove her or stop a no-deal Brexit. In a remarkable diatribe the journalist went on to describe the ERG's methods as 'tactical stupidity', saying:

'You haven't got the votes in parliament. It's really hard dealing with this because it seems to me so daft, to use a polite word for it. You can't get no deal through parliament because 400 MPs are against it. It doesn't matter who the leader of the Conservative Party is.'

And went on to add:

'One of the reasons you failed to get rid of her the last time that you pointlessly made a vote of no confidence in her that just resulted in strengthening her for a year, is that getting rid of her would make no difference. And it is failing to appreciate that has meant that you have overplayed your hand, over and over again, and are going to end up, possibly, with a second referendum on a soft Brexit, and a Corbyn government thrown in. The tactical stupidity of this is breathtaking.'

Andrew Bridgen retorted that even if his faction didn't have MPs on their side, 17.4 million Leave voters did support them. Pressed on whether he could win a vote of no confidence in May, Bridgen told the panel that 'up to a dozen' of his colleague in the party now regretted their votes, prompting a guffaw from Finkelstein.

The pair also clashed over the depth of public support for no deal. After Bridgen claimed that 'most of the public want to leave now with no deal as soon as possible' Finkelstein said that this was 'not true'. To which Bridgen quipped back:  'might not be true inside London'.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to

Topics in this articlePolitics