William Hague joins calls for Theresa May to prioritise the economy over immigration in Brexit talks

Helen Cahill
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William Hague Speaks In Favour Of Remaining In The EU
The former Tory leader backed the Remain camp in the referendum (Source: Getty)

Former Tory leader William Hague has urged Prime Minister Theresa May to prioritise the economy over immigration in upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Hague backed the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, but is seen as a relatively unifying figure when it comes to Brexit.

Read more: Gove: Brexit plans must reflect Remainer fears after Tory election defeat

He has joined SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Labour MP Yvette Cooper in calling for a cross-party commission to handle the UK's exit from the EU, and has suggested that the UK stay in the European Economic Area (also known as the 'Norway option').

Writing in the Telegraph, Hague said:

Change the emphasis given to the UK's objectives, with a clear indication that economic growth will have a priority over controlling the number of people entering the country for work.

This would show a readyness to accommodate the views of Scottish Conservatives, business organisations, and, to some degree, opposition parties, within certain parameters.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has said that the UK must aim for an "open Brexit", arguing that free trade was more important than immigration.

She has grown in stature following the election, winning 12 new seats for the party, meaning her faction in Westminster now numbers 13 MPs.

Hague is not the only high-profile Tory calling for May to re-think her Brexit stance following the election. Michael Gove, now environment secretary, said this morning that the party must have an "open conversation" about Britain's exit.

Speaking on the Today programme, Gove said: "We also need to ensure that the concerns of people who voted Remain, many of whom want us to press ahead with leaving the EU as quickly and in as orderly a fashion as possible, we need to make sure their concerns are part of our conversation."

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