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Number 10 rejects claim Theresa May 'refused to change Chequers plan cleared with Angela Merkel'

2 min read

Downing Street has "categorically" rejected a claim that Theresa May said she could not change her Chequers Brexit plan because it had already been cleared with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs May has already suffered the departure of two Cabinet heavyweights - Boris Johnson and David Davis - over the Brexit blueprint thrashed out with her top ministers at Chequers last week.

The plan - set to be unveiled in a White Paper today - seeks to maintain close economic ties with the European Union in a bid to limit disruption to businesses and avoid a hard border. But it has triggered a furious reaction from Brexiteers who believe it cedes too much control to the European Union.

The Spectator's Charles Moore has claimed that Mrs May enraged Eurosceptics at the Chequers meeting by telling them that her proposal could not be modified because it had already won the backing of the German chancellor.

"No, that’s not possible, because I’ve already cleared it with Mrs Merkel," she is reported to have said.

But a Downing Street source said: "The Charles Moore claim is categorically untrue."

Brexiteer Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg last night warned it was "not within the norms of the constitution to discuss British policy with other leaders before it’s presented to the Cabinet".

He told Sky News: "I think they might have been taken to Brussels and to Berlin before they were presented at Chequers which is a serious question.

"And there’s another question about how they were drawn up because they were drawn up in secret without telling the Secretary of State for leaving the European Union David Davis what was going on, whilst his department was working on a White Paper.

"I don’t think it has been handled in a proper governmental system and in accordance with our constitutional norms."

Mr Rees-Mogg is among Conservative eurosceptics looking to derail Mrs May's Brexit plan with a string of amendments to the Trade Bill in the House of Commons next week.

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