Tory rebels risk derailing Brexit if they follow Boris Johnson, warns William Hague

William Hague warned Brexiteers against pursuing a hard Brexit
Ryan Wilkinson, Press Association

Tory rebels risk derailing Brexit if they follow "romantics" Boris Johnson and David Davis into opposing the British prime minister's Chequers plans, William Hague has said.

The Tory grandee called on Brexiteer MPs to accept the "harsh truth" that pursuing a hard Brexit would likely fail to clear the Commons, risks thousands of job losses and threaten peace in Northern Ireland.

Instead they should follow the "realist" approach of Environment Secretary Michael Gove and support Theresa May's Chequers proposals, the former Tory leader said.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph amid speculation over a potential leadership challenge against the PM by Eurosceptic MPs, Lord Hague said: "Being a Romantic on this issue is all very well but is of no practical use to the country. It is an indulgence not a policy."

In the wake of Mr Johnson's resignation on Monday night, members of the European Research Group of Brexiteers and the 1922 backbench committee met at separate gatherings in Westminster.

Mrs May addressed the '22, warning that an attempt to topple her risked handing power to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The committee's chairman, Sir Graham Brady, reportedly said he had not received the 48 signatures required to trigger the challenge process.

Lord Hague warned "Tory MPs with their pens hovering over letters" that the chances of such a challenge leading to the Brexit they desire "are about zero".

"The best way forward is to join Gove the Realist in saying that the EU needs to respond with flexibility and generosity," he wrote.

"The absence of an statesmanship or vision on the EU side of the talks is striking, and a united Cabinet and party would be far better placed to focus attention and pressure on that."

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