Tory chairman James Cleverly: We can thrive under no-deal Brexit
The Conservative Party chairman has insisted that the “energy and adaptability” of people in the West Midlands will help the region to thrive under a no-deal Brexit.
James Cleverly hailed the entrepreneurial spirit of businesses from the region, insisting that they have a successful future ahead regardless of whether the UK departs the EU with or without a deal on October 31.
He also suggested the rise of the Brexit Party could stop Britain leaving the EU altogether, with candidates from Nigel Farage’s party splitting the Leave vote and handing the initiative to politicians from pro-Remain parties.
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It came as Boris Johnson met with Emmanuel Macron in Paris, where the French President backed plans to give the UK 30 days to find a solution to the Irish backstop but insisted any changes must be made within the framework of the existing deal
Mr Cleverly was in the West Midlands as a guest of Wolverhampton South West parliamentary candidate Stuart Anderson.
The pair visited the Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara in Wolverhampton, where they spoke with temple elders including trust chair Surjit Singh Uppal during a tour of the Upper Villiers Street site.
In an interview with the E&S, Mr Cleverly said: “When I speak to people, the thing that keeps coming across is that they want certainty. They want Brexit done, they want it dealt with.
“A lot of people tell me they want the decisions that affect their business made by British politicians so they can be held accountable by them and people in their local areas.
“That’s why the Prime Minister is clear that we are going to leave on October 31, so people can make decisions based around that.”
His comments came as the chances of a fresh Brexit deal being agreed before the deadline appear to be diminishing, with the Government ramping up no-deal preparations as EU leaders continue to pour cold water on the prospects of new talks.
Mr Johnson said a deal could be achieved with “sufficient patience” – a point backed by Mr Cleverly, although the Tory chairman moved to play down claims of any huge risks associated with a no-deal departure.
“Businesses adapt and we have a fantastic business community here in the West Midlands. This area is obviously famous for manufacturing but there is so much more to it than that,” he said.
“This is a naturally adaptable place and I have no doubt whatsoever that the West Midlands businesses will continue to thrive [under no-deal].
“What we have always seen is that this area has a real gravitational pull for entrepreneurs, not just from around the country, but from around the globe.
“That energy, that adaptability... they will be the things that continue to underpin the success of this area.”
Asked about the threat posed by the rise of the Brexit Party, which won big at the recent European elections, Mr Cleverly insisted that the Conservatives were the only party truly committed to getting Britain out of the EU.
“We are unequivocal in that we are going to deliver Brexit by October 31,” he said. “What we saw in Wales in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is that there were 3,000 people who voted for the Brexit Party, and the Conservative Party candidate – who was determined to help the Prime Minister deliver Brexit – lost by 1,400 votes to an MP who is trying to stop Brexit from happening.
“So the message I would send, for everybody, irrespective of which party they voted for, is that Brexit needs to be delivered now... and the Conservatives are the only party committed to doing that.
“Once we start doing that we can start talking about the other stuff we want to do, which is about business, and school funding, and about getting 20,000 extra police officers on the streets, and making sure the money for the NHS gets to the frontline. Delivering Brexit will unlock all of this.”
Wolverhampton South West parliamentary candidate Stuart Anderson, said: “Wolverhampton will thrive, and will continue to go from strength to strength whether we have a deal of not.
“This is because the people here want to move forward with Brexit.
“We will be out of the EU on October 31 and we can have a brighter future than we have ever had before.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson continued his tour of European capitals, during which he is hoping to persuade leaders to reopen negotiations on key Brexit issues including the Irish backstop.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated she would be willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement in a bid to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
She has set Britain a 30-day deadline for coming up with an alternative solution to replace the Irish backstop.
It is a timetable Mr Johnson said he was “more than happy with” and spoke with optimism for a solution.
The Prime Minister will continue in France this weekend for the G7 summit in Biarritz, where is is expected to hold talks with Donald Trump.