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Theresa May being hampered by ‘religious’ views on both sides of Brexit debate says West Norfolk MP

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North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has blamed “religious” feeling on both sides of the Brexit debate for the latest crisis.

There has been growing speculation that prime minister Theresa May could set out when she is likely to go potentially as early as today.

The pressure has grown amid furious opposition to her latest Brexit proposals, the resignation of Andrea Leadsom as leader of the House of Commons on Wednesday and the prospect of the Conservatives’ worst ever election results.

Sir Henry said he would still back Mrs May if the withdrawal legislation is put before MPs next month and argued the issue would have been resolved by now had his Conservative colleagues backed the government in March.

Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk
Henry Bellingham MP for North West Norfolk

Asked what was happening in his party, he said: “I wish I knew. I have been wrong lots of times.

“I underestimated the almost religious fervour of some of my colleagues on both sides.”

Opinion polls throughout the campaign have suggested the new Brexit Party, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, is likely to be the main beneficiary of the continuing crisis.

And Downham resident Dan O’Connor said he was a former Tory voter who had switched sides to them because of the failure to deliver on the referendum result.

He said: “How could I ever possibly trust or vote again for a local Conservative politician, after their responsibility for the Brexit shambles?”

Labour’s Jo Rust said she also expected her party to lose out at the polls, but claimed that was not because of their own actions, despite the failure to reach agreement in recent cross-party talks.

She said: “We are going to suffer because David Cameron offered a simple in out choice and it’s more complicated than that.”

Jo Rust
Jo Rust

Meanwhile, newly-elected Liberal Democrat councillor Josie Ratcliffe said she was optimistic her party would make gains because of their Remain stance.

She said: “Theresa May has ignored growing public appreciation of the benefits of EU membership.

“The EU election has become a two-horse race between those parties who have clear positions on EU membership.”

And the Green Party’s Michael de Whalley said that, despite the hostility to Mrs May proposing a vote on another referendum, that was still the best way of breaking the deadlock.

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