Sat, 15 June 2024

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Former top Number 10 aide Nick Timothy: Britain heading for worst possible Brexit

Liz Bates

3 min read

Britain is heading for the "very worst" Brexit deal because Theresa May is being undermined by some of her own ministers, Nick Timothy has declared.

The former Number 10 chief of staff - who was forced to quit after the Conservatives lost their majority at last year's general election - said the UK must "toughen up" during the rest of the negotiation with Brussels.

Mr Timothy's comments came as the Prime Miniser prepares to address EU leaders amid growing tension over the possibility of a no deal Brexit.

Speaking at the EU Council summit in Brussels, Mrs May will insist that good progress is being made in the talks.

But she will will face demands to make faster progress during negotiations – particularly on the Northern Irish border issue - in order to avoid Britain crashing out of the EU next year without an agreement.

Irish leader Leo Varadkar said the pace so far had been "disappointing," and he expected the EU 27 to send a "strong message" to the Prime Minister that talks must "intensify".

And Danish prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, said yesterday: “It is the first time we are saying clearly to the British that we can end, in the worst scenario, [with] no deal.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Timothy said Mrs May had been "undermined by Parliament" during the Brexit process.

He also accused the Business Secretary Greg Clark of attempting to push continued free movement of labour and the Chancellor Philip Hammond of thwarting legitimate no deal Brexit planning.

Mr Timothy said: "Pro-EU rebels want to prevent a “no deal” outcome while forcing us into a customs union and, perhaps, the single market. They have allowed the Europeans to divide and rule us, and cherry pick what they want from the future relationship.

"But within government it is just as bad. The Chancellor blocked meaningful no-deal planning, and refused point blank to consider alternatives to EU financial regulations. Instead, the Treasury produced negative economic forecasts based on outcomes the Government did not seek, and leaked them to the media.

"It is not just the Treasury. This week, the Business Secretary has made the case for “labour mobility” – code for a form of free movement – with the EU. This not only breaches one of the Prime Minister’s red lines: it is one of Brussels’ main demands of Britain.

This is ridiculous, and it has to stop. The EU showed last December – when the talks faltered over Northern Ireland – that they want a deal. But they want a deal on the best terms for them, and the very worst for Britain. As things stand, they might well succeed."

He added: "The coming Brexit white paper should herald a new approach. It should articulate – on our own terms – what we want. We should say we want a partnership encompassing trade and security where rights and obligations are reciprocal and in balance. We will not accept the jurisdiction of the European Court, free movement or massive annual payments for market access that should be free.

"Ministers should point out that it is not Britain jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement, but the Irish, who are failing to respect the integrity of the United Kingdom. And the Chancellor should immediately increase spending and staffing to prepare for “no deal”. The time for sincere cooperation with a partner that does not want to sincerely cooperate is over: we must toughen up."

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