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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019

Rory Stewart says he'll set up a Citizens' Assembly on Brexit if he becomes Prime Minister

The Tory leadership candidate said that “this is what they did in Ireland on abortion, and actually really worked”.

TORY LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE Rory Stewart has said that he would set up a Citizen’s Assembly in Britain to solve Brexit if he became Prime Minister.

“That would be like a jury, selected very scientifically across the country, whittled down to be representative of the country as a whole, give them three weeks to go through the details of it, and then make recommendations,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Stweart said 50,000 people would get a phone call or a letter in late July, and there would be an equal split of “north against south, men against women, Brexit against no Brexit”. 

“And the reason to do it is to release the pressure from parliament, parliament is gridlocked,” he said, adding that he would give MPs one last chance to fix that gridlock, before passing it on to a Citizens’ Assembly.

He added: “this is what they did in Ireland on abortion, and actually really worked”.

Stewart also said that a customs union, if it meant frictionless trade, would be “a good thing for the British economy”.

“What I want is there in the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, I want frictionless trade, I want the thing that 270 MPs voted for, and we have to get 45 more on board.

And I know this feels terrible for people, because I know we’ve seen this defeated again and again, but it is the quickest, the most constitutional, the most legitimate way of getting it done and the other candidates who are promising what they can’t deliver, are going to let people down terribly.

On the same programme, Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt said that EU leaders had indicated to him that they were willing to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement to remove the backstop, which the EU has repeatedly said is not up for renegotiation.

“I’m not saying this is going to be easy,” Hunt said. When asked if French President Emmanuel Macron, or German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that they were willing to renegotiate the Brexit deal, Hunt said:

“What they’ve said is that they are prepared to look at the whole package, and in particular they’re willing to look at whether you can get much more detail on the future relationship so that you don’t need a backstop.”

They said that they are prepared to look at a deal that doesn’t need a backstop, and I have said, ‘Should we not try?’

Hunt said that if they are approached with “the right British Prime Minister”, they’re willing to look at the Brexit deal again with changes.

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