Anti-EU Tory MPs pile pressure on Theresa May over soft Brexit fears

Posted On: 
6th December 2017

Tory MPs have rounded on Theresa May amid fears the Prime Minister is watering down her Brexit demands.

Jacob Rees-Mogg speaking during Prime Minister's Questions
Credit: 
PA Images

Jacob Rees-Mogg told Mrs May her negotiating red lines "were beginning to look a bit pink" after her hopes of a breakthrough were dashed on Monday.

The Prime Minister had hoped to secure an agreement at a lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker that the Brexit talks could move onto trade in the New Year.

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But the proposed deal fell through after the DUP blocked a propose compromise on the future of the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

On Monday, the DUP effectively blocked an exit arrangement between the UK and Brussels at the eleventh hour.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Jacob Rees-Moggsaid: "When my right honourable friend next goes to Brussels will she apply a new coat of paint to her red lines because I fear on Monday they were beginning to look a bit pink.”

In what looked like a co-ordinated attempt by Brexiteers to apply pressure to the Prime Minister, fellow eurosceptic Tory Peter Bone said: "When the British people voted to leave the European super state they voted to end the free movement of people, they voted to stop sending billions and billions of pounds to the EU each and every year and they voted to make our laws in our own country judged by our own judges.

"Prime Minister, are we on course still to deliver that and if we have a problem would it help if I came over to Brussels with you to sort them out?”

Bernard Jenkin also urged the Prime Minister to confirm that she was aware of the “very strong enthusiasm for free trade deals with the UK from countries like Canada, Japan, United States, Australian”, but warned this would not be possible if the UK “remains shackled to EU regulation after we’ve left the EU”. 

In response to Mr Rees-Mogg, Mrs May said: "I can happily say to my honourable friend that the principles with which the Government is negotiating were set out in the Lancaster House speech, they were set out in the Florence speech and those principles remain.” 

JOHNSON AND GOVE

According to the Telegraph, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are unhappy about how Brexit negotiations are progressing amid reports that the Northern Ireland deal proposed to Brussels was not agreed by Cabinet.   

The Prime Minister was last night accused of trying to "bounce" ministers and the DUP into allowing "continued regulatory alignment" between the Republic and Northern Ireland. 

One Cabinet source told the paper: “It seems that either Northern Ireland is splitting from the rest of the UK or we are headed for high alignment with the EU, which certainly hasn’t been agreed by Cabinet. The Prime Minister is playing a risky game.”

Sources also told the paper that Mrs May had failed to get support from her ministerial team on the "regulatory alignment" proposition and it had only been raised briefly during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

"There is a genuine fear that we are heading for a soft Brexit… It seems that the plan was to square it with the EU and come back and bounce the DUP and the Cabinet into accepting her position," one source said.