PM rules out other options in BBC interview but critics claim her policy gambles a auto crash
Theresa May has insisted the only alternative to her Chequers plan is gate-crashing out of the EU with no deal, motivating her commentators on the right of the Republican party to say she risks a” auto gate-crash” if she stays to her policy.
The prime minister told the BBC on Monday she was confident of get a bargain based on Chequers, whereby the UK would agree to sign up to a” common rulebook” for food and goods, which is deeply unpopular with hard Brexiters.
May said she would then put the expected departure agreement to parliament for MPs to endorse, possibly in November, and contended there would be no alternative other than no deal.
Asked by Nick Robinson on BBC One’s Panorama whether she was saying ” my spate or no batch”, May said:” I believe we will get a good deal. We will bring that back from the EU negotiations and employed that to parliament. I think that the alternative to that will be not having a deal .”
Tory MPs in the hard Brexit-backing European Research Group( ERG) moved quickly to express their objections. Steve Baker, who resigned as a junior Brexit minister over Chequers, said he agreed with a column by Boris Johnson in the Telegraph and the UK should instead aim for a Canada-style free trade agreement.
Baker began by paraphrasing Johnson, saying ” if the Brexit talks continue on this path they will end, I am afraid, in a splendid political vehicle crash ,” and he went on:” He’s right. The future for the UK alongside the EU must be based on an advanced FTA[ free-trade agreement ], plus a range of agreements .”
There was support for Baker’s position from the ERG chairman, Jacob-Rees Mogg, who said May was taking a” sort of Dirty Harry alternative … it’s come on, punk, make my day, how many shots have been fired? If you do the incorrect select the consequences can be distressing .” She would find there was ” very little subsistence” for Chequers if she employed it to a vote.
But when May was asked what would happen if parliament scorned the agreement she expects to secure with Brussels, she said:” Do you really contemplate the European Union is going to give a better cope at that point ?”
The prime minister will see Salzburg on Wednesday and Thursday to attend an informal EU council of leads, where she will canvass support for her Chequers plan over dinner on the first night. It will be a critical test of the credibility of the proposals with EU leaders, a week-and-a-half before the Conservative conference.
May also dismissed alternative plans for the Irish mete, including the one put forward last week by the ERG.” What many of these other programs are based on is moving the border. You don’t solve the issue of no hard mete by having a hard border 20 km inside Northern Ireland, or 20 km inside Ireland. It is still a hard border ,” the council of ministers said.
” What we’ve done is listen to the people of Northern Ireland … They don’t want a hard margin between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The only proposal that has been put forward that delivers on them not having that hard margin, and made to ensure that we don’t carve up the United Kingdom, is the Chequers plan .”
Johnson had written in his Telegraph column that Brexit would be” a total write-off” unless May ripped up her a blueprint for the Irish frontier. He said the backstop, which would deter Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market if no other agreement could be reached, was ” used in order to pressure the UK into becoming a vassal state of Brussels “.
But No 10 delivered a sharp-witted admonition to Johnson.” I think it is worth pointing out that Boris Johnson was a member of the cabinet which agreed to the December joint report, in particular the backstop. At the time, he praised the prime minister for her finding in securing the spate ,” May’s official spokesman said.
” He remained in authority for a full seven several months after the joint report was agree. And he was also a member of the cabinet subcommittee which concurred the UK’s proposed usages backstop .”
May has already been told the BBC the options put forward by the EU for Brexit were unacceptable.
” The European Union had basically introduced two gives on the table. Either the UK stays in the single market and the customs union- effectively in the EU- that would have betrayed the vote of the British people ,” she said.” Or, on the other side, a basic free trade agreement but carving Northern Ireland out and efficiently preventing Northern Ireland in the European Union and Great Britain out. That would have broken up the United Kingdom, or could have broken up the United kingdom government. Both of those were unacceptable to the UK .”
Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, congregated the Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley, on Monday afternoon and is filling the EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, on Tuesday, but the Irish government is not expecting any significant move from the British until after the Tory party conference at the earliest.
Brussels is working on the basis that 60% of consignment going from the British mainland to Northern Ireland goes through Dublin port, so any checks on agrifood, custom-builts and border controls could be done either at Holyhead in Wales or at Dublin port before onward transit.
However, this does not address the question of where exactly” away from their own borders” checks would be carried out on goods going into Northern Ireland immediately through ports such as Belfast and Warrenpoint.