Tory Brexit supporters critical of deal struck by Theresa May
A string of Conservative MPs who support Brexit have lined up to voice concerns over the deal Theresa May struck with the EU today.
Former Brexit Minister David Jones said a proposal to stick with EU trade rules to protect the Irish border could “severely handicap” hopes for future UK trade deals.
Other key figures on the Tory backbenches who support Brexit welcomed the breakthrough today but argued a better withdrawal agreement would need to be secured later down the line.
Theresa May rushed to Brussels during the small hours this morning to offer ‘full alignment’ with EU trade rules if Britain eventually crashes out of the bloc without a replacement arrangement.
The measure was inserted to ensure the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will remain open without the later needing a separate Brexit deal from the rest of the UK.
But speaking to Radio 4 this afternoon, Mr Jones said the clause was the “biggest worry” in the document for those who support Brexit.
“The worry about that of course is that that could well relate to very important areas, for example agriculture, which we would want to throw into the mix in negotiating a free trade agreement with a third country,” he explained.
“And if this were to persist then it could severely handicap our ability to enter into those free trade agreements. So I think we do need to see that particular provision refined.”
He noted further concerns that the so-called divorce bill – estimated at up to €40bn – could end up being “considerably more” under the terms laid out in the deal.
Tory MP John Redwood meanwhile said on Twitter that “a good deal has to be better than this” and reminded the Government of the EU mantra that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.
And former minister Owen Paterson said “problem areas” such as the provision on full alignment “must be debated & resolved”.
But other Brexit-supporting Tory backbenchers expressed support for the Prime Minister. Nadine Dorries said she was “very happy” and that compromise was a fact of life.
Suella Fernandes - who chairs the pro-Brexit European Research Group – meanwhile said the agreement was “pragmatic & flexible”.