Theresa May warns it's Chequers or no deal as Boris Johnson launches fresh attack

Posted On: 
17th September 2018

Theresa May has warned Tory MPs to back her Brexit plan or see Britain crash out of the EU without a deal - as Boris Johnson accused her of "deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule".

The Prime Minister challenged Brexiteer MPs - as Boris Johnson savaged her plans for Northern Ireland
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister threw down the gauntlet to Brexiteers in an interview with BBC Panorama.

Asked what would happen if MPs voted down a deal with the EU in Parliament, she said: "I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal."

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The defiant message from the PM came as Boris Johnson branded her plans to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland a "monstrosity" which would "effectively" keep the entire UK in the EU.

Eurosceptics warn that the Chequers plans for a "combined customs territory" and "continued harmonisation" with EU rules on goods will hand too much power to Brussels.

Writing in the Telegraph, the ex-Foreign Secretary said the proposals were a "constitutional abomination" that would result in a "total write-off of Brexit".

He said: "If Chequers were adopted it would mean that for the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule."

But Mrs May rubbished alternative Eurosceptic plans for the Northern Ireland border.

The European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs last week insisted that “co-operative data sharing” and technology could cut the need for customs checks on goods moving between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson today said "extra checks" could be done "away from the border" through so-called trusted trader and self-assessment schemes.

But the Prime Minister heaped scorn on those plans, saying: "You don't solve the issue of no hard border by having a hard border 20km inside Ireland."

She added: "The people of Northern Ireland deserve to be listened to in these negotiations by the UK government as people elsewhere in this country...

"They don't want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The only proposal that has been put forward that delivers on them not having that hard border and ensures that we don't carve up the United Kingdom is the Chequers plan."

'UNSOLVED PROBLEM'

The latest war of words over Chequers comes amid reports the EU is drawing up plans to accept a frictionless border in Northern Ireland in what would be a major boost for Mrs May.

According to the Times, EU negotiators are planning to agree to use technology to keep customs checks at the Northern Ireland border to a minimum, with officials fleshing out a a new “protocol” text acknowledging key elements of the UK's position.

"The biggest unsolved problem is Northern Ireland," a confidential note seen by the paper says.

"There is a political mobilisation in the UK in this regard. Therefore, we are trying to clarify the EU position."

Sabine Weyand, deputy to chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, is quoted as saying that checks at the Northern Ireland border would "only have to be organised in a way that would not endanger the EU single market".

The paper also reports that the EU will try to phrase its plans to acknowledge UK "concern" that any solution for Northern Ireland could be seized on by the Scottish Government in an attempt to gain fresh powers.