Liam Fox (pictured in Downing Street today) has warned Eurosceptics they must ‘live with disappointment’
Liam Fox has urged Brexiteers to stop making Theresa May’s life difficult – insisting they must learn to ‘live with disappointment’.
The Trade Secretary, a hardline Eurosceptic, warned that the noises off were ‘unhelpful’ as the government battles to get a good deal from the EU.
The comments are part of a concerted effort by senior figures to shore up Mrs May, amid increasing unrest on the Tory benches.
The proposed ‘transition deal’ after we formally leave the bloc in March 2019 has caused anger among Brexiteers.
Mrs May is being urged to reject the terms demanded by Brussels, which include accepting free movement and obeying EU laws without having any say in how they are set.
Together with disquiet about ‘timid’ domestic policies, there has been mounting speculation that the PM could face a leadership contest sooner rather than later.
But Dr Fox delivered a stark message that MPs need to keep their eyes on the bigger prize of taking the UK out of the EU.
He stressed that the Tories did not have an overall majority without the DUP, limiting their room for manoeuvre on domestic policy.
Asked about criticism of Chancellor Philip Hammond for supporting a softer Brexit, Dr Fox the Sun: ‘It doesn’t help us for people to be involved in this sort of briefing they were over the weekend against individual colleagues because nothing that would happen would change the parliamentary arithmetic.
‘We don’t have a working majority, other than with the support of the Democratic Unionists, and we need to accept the reality of that.
‘I know that there are always disappointed individuals but they’re going to have to live with disappointment.’
But former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told Dr Fox that the situation would be improved if Cabinet ministers said less and stuck to Mrs May’s stance.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I don’t quite know what he means by disappointment. My view is leaving is the right thing to do and we will benefit from it in due course.
‘I have a very simple message for my colleagues, generally: people should just calm down. The reality is this was always going to be bumpy.
‘I think the best message I might send to Liam Fox and others is that, actually, if Cabinet ministers said a little less and speculated a little less about where they were, and stuck to what Theresa May has said, we might not have all of these disagreements.’
Meanwhile, a study drawn up for the Brexit Department shows growth would be lower whatever deal the UK strikes with the EU.
Even a comprehensive free trade agreement would see the economy 5 per cent smaller in 15 years’ time than it would be otherwise, according to the study.
But the findings were dismissed as incomplete by Leave-supporting MPs – who pointed out that the Project Fear campaign made similar dire predictions before the referendum and they turned out to be wrong.
There has been mounting speculation that the PM (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) could face a leadership contest sooner rather than later