The UK could see a huge surge in right-wing extremism if the government blocks or weakens Brexit, a cabinet minister has warned.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said any moves to block Theresa May’s Brexit deal would cause the 17m people who voted to leave the EU feel “cheated”.
Grayling told the Daily Mail any intervention in the withdrawal process could end centuries of “moderate” politics and lead to an increase in “nasty” incidents.
“People should not underestimate this,” he said. “We would see a different tone in our politics. A less tolerant society, a more nationalistic nation.
“It will open the door to extremist populist political forces in this country of the kind we see in other countries in Europe.”
The comments come ahead of parliament’s crucial vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal on Tuesday. The agreement is widely expected to be voted down by MPs.
This week Conservative MP Anna Soubry was subjected to ‘Nazi’ taunts from protestors as she gave a live TV interview in Westminster.
“There's already a nastiness and unpleasantness in our politics, more people with extreme views, more people willing to behave in an uncivilised way,” Grayling added.
But Labour MP David Lammy dismissed the comments as “gutter politics”.
“This is a desperate attempt by a government minister to use a tiny far right minority to hold our democracy to ransom,” he said.
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has also urged MPs to pass the withdrawal agreement, saying “Brexit paralysis” could damage the country’s long-term future.
But yesterday it emerged the withdrawal process is likely to be delayed due to a backlog of bills that must be passed before Britain leaves the EU.
“Certainly, if there was defeat on Tuesday and it took some time before it got resolved, it’s hard to see how we can get all the legislation through by March 29,” a senior minister told the Evening Standard.
Top Leave campaign donors Crispin Odey and Peter Hargreaves have also said they expect the Brexit decision to be reversed as the 29 March deadline approaches.