Conservative MP and Brexit supporter Alex Chalk has told a People’s Vote rally to fight against no-deal Brexit.
The Cheltenham MP said “sensible, pragmatic moderates should choose to fight” no deal, which both Tory leadership candidates have refused to rule out.
Mr Chalk added he did not believe the UK had to have the hardest Brexit possible, nor that Remainers were unpatriotic.
“Every single Briton in this room is a patriot,” he said. “I recognise the pride you take in this country and its values and I don’t subscribe to the ideal that 48-52 in the referendum was a mandate for a tungsten-hard Brexit.
“No deal would be very difficult and damaging for our country, where so much of our industry has been forged around the certainty of just in time supply chains.
“It would mean no implementation period, immediate tariffs, relations with the rest of the EU would be damaged by an almighty row about how much of that £39 billion would be paid.
“Avoiding no deal is the territory on which sensible, pragmatic moderates should choose to fight.”
However, Mr Chalk said he was still not ready to back another referendum on Brexit, despite 65% of his constituents supporting a People’s Vote and 34% supporting a no-deal Brexit in a recent Populus opinion poll.
One of Mr Chalk’s local Conservative councillors, Viv Matthews, said she “desperately” wanted another vote.
“Three years ago I was convinced that walking away from the biggest trading block in the world was a mistake, and I voted remain,”” she said.
“Now in the light of the unfolding chaos of industrial inertia, job losses and Government failures before us, I am even more of that view – I desperately want another vote.”
Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton, whose clothing business is based in Cheltenham, told Mr Chalk his business would not exist without the EU.
“Economically it will be a disaster if we leave, it will be a divorce from Hell,” he said.
“Superdry… simply wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the EU – it meant there were no boundaries to our expansion plans.
“Britain is only 50-60 million people, it is not big enough to build a world class company. If we want to build that scale of company, you need access to those hundreds of millions of people.”
Mr Dunkerton urged Mr Chalk to listen to the opinion polls on a People’s Vote.
“We can win this if we are given the chance and Alex you are ignoring the evidence of all the opinion polls when you’re saying we can’t win,” he said. “We can win.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, warned the UK was “the laughing stock of the world” and needed to change direction, which could not happen with either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt as prime minister.
He added: “One quarter of one percent of the electorate are meeting to decide who the next prime minster should be.
“They are on track to elect a PM who believes we can charge out of the EU without a deal.”