A former chief of staff to David Davis has said Brexit is a catastrophe that must be stopped and called on centrist MPs to form a new party.
James Chapman, who worked for the Brexit secretary for a year as the Department for Exiting the European Union was set up, suggested the new party should be called the Democrats and claimed some “very interesting people” wanted to be involved.
He made the call in a string of tweets “Past time for sensible MPs in all parties to admit Brexit is a catastrophe, come together in new party if need be, and reverse it,” he said.
Chapman, who previously worked for George Osborne, said anti-Brexit MPs such as Anna Soubry, Grant Shapps and Mark Harper had more in common with party opponents such as Rachel Reeves and Vince Cable than “Owen Paterson et al”.
The former aide, who worked for Davis until the 2017 general election, went on to tweet at Chris Grayling, the transport secretary: “Hello @chrisgraylingmp – can you confirm airlines won’t be able to sell 80% of flights from next March? How are bilateral deals coming?”
He then asked: “Has [the] government yet corrected ministers’ claims Brexit will not limit cancer treatments, now condemned as false by every expert body in the land?”
Chapman also revealed that hundreds of lorry bays would be needed to deal with extra border checks when the UK leaves the EU, which will “mean compulsory purchase and demolition of lots of Brexit voters’ houses”, and claimed none of the thousands of extra customs officers needed had been hired.
Osborne, Chapman’s former boss, has been one of the most vocal critics of the government’s Brexit policy. As chancellor he warned before the referendum that a budget of tax rises and spending cuts would be needed to cope with the impact.
Chapman said: “There won’t just be one punishment budget if Brexit proceeds … [there will be] a decade of them as businesses flee and revenues collapse.”
His comments drew support from some pro-EU MPs across the parties. Vince Cable said he “agreed with David Davis’ ex chief of staff … The public should have a chance to exit from Brexit”.
Charles Tannock, a Tory MEP, said it was “nice to know there are a few fellow Tories who share my deepest concerns about Brexit”.
Wes Streeting, a Labour MP, said the problem did not need a new party but “enough MPs with the courage to put country first if all fails”.