Past eventInvitation OnlyResearch Event

Can the Conservative Party Survive Brexit?

12 April 2018 - 8:30am to 9:30am

Chatham House, London


Nick Timothy, Columnist, The Telegraph and The Sun; Chief-of-Staff to Prime Minister Theresa May (2016-17)
Chair: Hans Kundnani, Senior Fellow, Europe Programme, Chatham House



No issue has divided the modern Conservative Party like the UK’s membership to leave the European Union. While the vast majority of Conservative parliamentarians have accepted that Britain will now leave the EU,  deep divides remain between those who favour a softer Brexit and closer regulatory alignment with the single market and those determined to strike a clean break from the EU and are convinced of the opportunities this may bring, even if this risks a failure to reach any deal with the EU.
For now, the Cabinet appears to have found an agreement over the terms it will seek for the UK’s future relationship with the EU. But it is not clear if that consensus can outlast the compromises that will inevitably emerge from negotiations. The Conservative Party is also a unionist party, and Brexit presents challenges to the UK’s current constitutional settlement, both in Northern Ireland and in Scotland. Meanwhile, the Conservative grassroots remain strongly Eurosceptic, which may have implications for the next party leader.
Can the party find a unified position on Brexit? What compromises, if any, might those who favour a hard Brexit accept?  How can the government square the ambition to avoid a border in Ireland, the need to keep Northern Ireland in lock with the rest of the UK and the desire to diverge from the EU?  In this session, the speaker will explore how the politics of the Conservative Party may shape the final Brexit deal, and how the party can unify over the longer term.
Attendance at this event is by invitation only.