Election latest: Tories no longer have mandate for hard Brexit, admits George Osborne

Mr Osborne conceded that the Conservatives no longer had a mandate for a hard Brexit after they failed to win a majority in the general election

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The Independent Online

Brexit no longer has the backing of the House of Commons, according to former Chancellor George Osborne.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on Friday morning, Mr Osborne conceded that the Conservatives will need to rethink how to leave the EU, saying that they no longer have a mandate for a hard Brexit after they failed to win a majority in the general election.

Mr Osborne, who stood down as an MP for Tatton in April to take up his post as editor of the London Evening Standard, bemoaned what he saw as a shift to the right from the Tories, comparing their current standing to their long period in opposition during the early 2000s.

Although he refused to be drawn on whether Theresa May should stand down as party leader, he added: "I personally don't see how she can survive in the long term."

The leader of a UK small business group also called for Brexit talks to be postponed in the wake of the general election result.

Stressing the need for political stability following the result of a hung parliament, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, called for the next government to offer “immediate reassurance” on its commitment to protect the economy and remain “open for business”.

“It is important to go into the Brexit talks from a position of strength, focused on getting the best deal possible for trade and access to workers and skills,” said Mr Cherry in a statement.

“Negotiations should be led by a Government and a prime minister that will be in place for the duration, and so we call for a delay to the scheduled start of negotiations rather than a rush to begin in 11 days' time. The need for a transition period now becomes even stronger, providing the time to get Brexit right.”

Mr Cherry also reiterated demands for the next Government to reform business rates, protect the self-employed from “unfair tax rises” and tackle late payments by big companies to smaller suppliers.

There are fears that political deadlock could derail Brexit negotiations as a delay in forming a government could hold back talks, which are scheduled to start on 19 June, and limit the time available to reach a deal.

The failure of Theresa May’s Conservative Party to win an overall majority has raised the prospect of another election later in the year.

“The last thing business leaders need is a parliament in paralysis,” Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, told City AM. “The consequences for British business and for the UK as an investment destination would be severe.”

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