Fresh blow for Theresa May as Tory rebels launch bid to rip up her Chequers Brexit plan

Posted On: 
11th July 2018

Theresa May is facing a major Commons showdown with her Eurosceptic backbenchers after they launched a bid to destroy her Chequers deal on Brexit.

Leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg is spearheading an attempt to re-write the Government's Trade Bill in a move which piles further pressure on the embattled Prime Minister.

He and other Brexiteer MPs have tabled four amendments to the legislation in a bid to kill off the Chequers agreement, which has already led to Boris Johnson and David Davis quitting the Cabinet.

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Mrs May is hoping to rally support for her plan, which would see the UK maintain close economic ties with the EU, when the bill comes to the House of Commons on Monday.

But the Sun reports that the pro-Brexit rebels are challenging the Prime Minister to change course or face a humiliating defeat which would be yet another blow to her authority.

Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg, who chairs the powerful European Research Group of backbench Conservative Brexiteers, said the Chequers deal had been "a breakdown in trust".

He told the Sun: "I believe this will help the Government stick to the priomises it made.

"It may resolve the dilemma the Prime Minister faces. Does she rely on Labour votes to achieve Brexit or does she change her mind and go back to Lancaster House. Will she stick to her earlier words?"

One of the amendments include a demand that the UK ditches its promise to collect duties on behalf of Brussels unless EU member states are willing to do the same - a key part of the ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ in the Chequers plan.

A second amendment from Labour Brexiteer Kate Hoey - which also has the backing of the DUP on whose support Mrs May relies for her wafer-thin Commons majority - would force ministers to pass a law commiting to never introducing a border down the Irish sea.

Meanwhile, a third amendment would demand that the UK maintains a separate VAT system from the European Union, and a fourth would call on Mrs May to bring forward separate primary legislation to stay inside the EU’s customs union.

Expaning on the detial of the amendments, he said: “The amendments will put into law the government’s often stated position that Northern Ireland should be treated the same way as the rest of the country.”

“They will also ensure reciprocity of customs collection, and treating the UK and EU as equals.

“They will put into law the government’s stated position that we will not be part of the EU VAT regime.

“They will finally require any customs union should be created by primary not secondary legislation, so removing a Henry VIII power.”

Brexiteers have already expressed outrage at suggestions Mrs May could turn to Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs in a bid to steer her plan for leaving the EU through the House of Commons.

Mr Rees-Mogg said earlier this week: "If the Government plans to get the Chequers deal through on the back of Labour party votes that would be the most divisive thing it could do and it would be a split coming from the top, not from the members of the Conservative Party across the country."