Cabinet 'to give Theresa May one last chance' to sell Chequers Brexit plan

Posted On: 
8th October 2018

Top ministers will give Theresa May one final chance to win EU support for her Chequers Brexit plan before demanding an alternative, it has been reported.

The Prime Minister will face EU leaders on October 17.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister will attend a crunch Brussels summit next Wednesday at which she is hoping to seal a deal with fellow EU leaders on the terms of Britain's withdrawal.

But a Cabinet source warned that Mrs May would face rebellion from her ministers if the EU again rejects significant chunks of her Brexit blueprint.

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They told the Daily Mail: "Ministers will let her go to the European Council sticking to her Chequers plan.

"If the Tory party conference achieved anything, it gave her that extra space. But if there is another Salzburg-style rejection at the summit then things will start to get fruity.

"There will be pressure from various sides. People will then be saying, “what is Plan B? You now need to tell us that'."

CUSTOMS DEADLINE DEMAND

The warning came as the EU sounded a note of optimism about getting a deal, with Ireland's deputy prime minister Simon Coveney saying over the weekend that talks were "90%" complete.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meanwhile said "the rapprochement potential" between the two sides had "increased in recent days".

But the Prime Minister faces fresh pressure from her Eurosceptic backbenchers over a key concession designed to break the deadlock over the Northern Ireland border.

British negotiators are proposing to keep the whole of the UK inside the orbit of the EU's customs union after the Brexit transition period expires in December 2020.

However, Brexiteers are already demanding that the Prime Minister guarantees a cut-off point for the customs tie-up before the next scheduled general election in 2022.

"After that we can’t know who will be in charge, so we must be fully out by then," a senior Brexit supporter told The Times.

The Telegraph meanwhile reports that up to 25 Labour MPs are in the sights of Government whips hoping to win Commons support for any deal Mrs May strikes with the EU.

Tory Eurosceptics have already reacted with anger to the suggestion Mrs May could pass a deal with Labour support, while one Labour MP accused the Prime Minister of "grovelling for help to get her dogs-dinner of a plan through".

And at the weekend, a succession of Labour MPs insisted they would not help the Prime Minister get her deal through the Commons.

Furious MPs from the European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers will reportedly meet on Tuesday to discuss parliamentary tactics aimed at killing off Mrs May's Chequers plan, amid claims they could vote down key bills including the Budget in a show of strength.

A source told The Telegraph the Government was "heading for a very bad place" in the House of Commons.