James Heappey Weekly Column

As has been the case every week since the EU referendum, my inbox is buzzing with emails from lots of people who profoundly disagree with each other. People who have written to me many times to say they oppose the Prime Minister's Brexit deal because they oppose Brexit altogether have been encouraging me to support Rory Stewart even though Rory's Brexit plan is to push on with delivering that very same deal.

For those who are most motivated by Brexit - whether for or against - the leadership race just polarises opinion further. Saying, therefore, that the winner must bring the country back together is much easier said than done. If Rory were to win and soften Brexit further to get it through the Commons, that wouldn't unite - it would enrage millions who'd feel their Brexit vote had been ignored. Yet if any of the other candidates saw through their pledge to accept No Deal because the EU hadn't budged, that wouldn't unite either - it would enrage the millions of Remainers who'd resent that winner-takes-all outcome.

In short, unity can't come from the Brexit process unless the EU offer us a better deal that the country unites behind. All of the candidates to be our next PM know that; I really hope the EU do too.