Theresa May calms Brexiteer revolt as she heads to Brussels in search of breakthrough

Posted On: 
20th February 2019

Theresa May has headed off a fresh revolt by eurosceptic Tories after assuring them their preferred way of breaking the Brexit impasse has not been killed off.

Theresa May insisted the Malthouse Compromise was not dead.
PA Images

The hardline European Research Group insisted the so-called 'Malthouse Compromise' is "alive and kicking" following showdown talks with the Prime Minister.

Just hours earlier, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had told the Cabinet that the plan - which proposes using technological solutions to avoid the backstop plan for maintaining an open border in Ireland - would not be ready by the time the UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

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That led to reports that the proposal, which was drawn up by Leave and Remain-backing Tory MPs, had been rejected entirely.

But in a statement following their talks with Mrs May, ERG leaders Jacob Rees-Mogg and Syeve Baker said: "The Malthouse Compromise is alive and kicking. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU can provide details. We look forward to further developments.

"We look forward to further precision about exactly what we will be asked to vote for."

In a speech last night, Chancellor Philip Hammond described the Malthouse Compromise as "promising" but added: "It is clear that the EU will not consider replacing the backstop with such an alternative arrangement now, in order to address our immediate challenge."

Instead, he said the plan could be considered as part of negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU after 29 March.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will hold talks with European Commssion president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels as she continues to seek legally-binding changes to the Irish backstop.

It is understood that Mrs May will take new proposals on either putting an end date on the insurance plan, or a way of allowing the UK to leave the arrangement unilaterally.

She is hoping for a breakthrough ahead of the next round of Brexit votes in the House of Commons on 27 February.