Conservative MP Anna Soubry has much in common with Labour's views on Brexit


Tory tensions over Brexit rose to the surface once again during Wednesday's Brexit debate in the Commons as senior MPs clashed on exactly what Brexit means.

In the debate, the words of former business minister Anna Soubry seemed to resonate with many people on Twitter as she acknowledged that she has much in common with Labour on Brexit - controversial considering she is a Conservative MP.

She paid tribute to the "wise words from my new friend, the right honourable member for Doncaster North" - referring to Ed Miliband.

She warned Britain is living in "very difficult, dangerous times" and a cross-party approach is needed and she hit out at attempts to "extrapolate" from the EU vote other positions, such as curbing immigration.

She said: "There was one question on that ballot paper, and it is wrong therefore to assume that there is a whole series of mandates that flow from that one simple and very straight forward question.

"And with great respect to the Prime Minister and her Cabinet and those in Government, we are using that as an excuse for other mandates, and that is simply wrong."

Anna Soubry
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Setting herself on a collision course with her party leadership, Soubry said the Conservatives must abandon its target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.

She said: "Let me say to you here and now today, I make it clear that we have to abandon that target. We can't keep it, we know the reality - people come here to work, and in simple terms who is going to do the jobs that these people who come here do?

"There seems to be a nonsensical idea that with a bit of upskilling here and with a bit of upskilling there we will find the millions and millions of people who come, and they work not just in those low skilled work jobs, but right the way through to the highest levels of research and development - the great entrepreneurs."

She said Nottingham University - one of the elite group of Russell group universities - is struggling to keep and recruit international academics because they do not feel welcome, adding, "we should be holding our heads in shame".

And she called for Parliament to get a vote on Article 50, the process by which formal Brexit negotiations are triggered.