James Cleverly questioned the shadow Brexit secretary and the Lib Dem Brexit spokesman’s ability to handle exit negotiations and reiterated “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, the candidate running for reelection in Braintree said Brexit was the “foundation stone” of this General Election.
He said: “General Elections are never about one issue but without a shadow of a doubt Brexit is the foundation stone upon which all other decisions are made.
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James Cleverly shut down Nick Clegg and Keri Starmer over the Tories' Brexit strategy
They would roll over and take whatever deal the EU throws at them and Theresa is stronger than that
“And we’ve already heard in that interaction between Keir and Nick that they would be willing to basically take whatever deal the EU presents them in order to just come back with a deal.
“And in doing so would plunge all the decisions that we need to take about the economy, about education, about health, put a massive question mark over our ability to find all of those things because they would roll over and take whatever deal the EU throws at them and Theresa is stronger than that.”
It comes after the former Lib Dem leader argued “chaos” would ensue if the UK failed to reach a deal with the European Union.
Brexit Negotiations: Britain's sternest enemies Tue, April 4, 2017
According to a new index, the EU27 countries fall into three groups: hard-core, hard and soft. These are the countries with the highest scores which indicate a fairly strong opposition to Britain’s position
AFP/Getty Images 1 of 7
France has the highest score in the index at 32.5
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The debate between James Cleverly and Keir Starmer became heated
He said: “Authoritative independent analysts have suggested we would lose about a third of the trade we do with the rest of the world if we had no deal at all.
“It would pitch the United Kingdom into an absolute legal and commercial tailspin, money would be sucked out of the country, I think the pound would come under great pressure, there would be intense market instability.
“And that, of course, means people’s jobs and livelihoods would be affected, precisely the ‘just about managing’ the Conservatives claim they’re so concerned about.”
Mr Starmer branded the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit “extreme” and said it was “not working”.
He said Labour would “change the tone and approach” to negotiations.