Theresa May defends Chequers Brexit plan after broadside from former top aide Nick Timothy

Posted On: 
30th August 2018

Theresa May has defended her Chequers plan after her former top adviser branded it "the worst of all worlds".

Theresa May reached Kenya today on her whistle-stop tour of African nations
PA Images

The Prime Minister said the proposals - which triggered the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis - were “a good deal for the UK but also a good deal for the European Union”.

But she refused to say whether the UK would be more “powerful” out of the bloc than staying within it.

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Her comments came after her former chief of staff, Nick Timothy, tore into her plan to maintain close economic ties with the EU post-Brexit.

In his Telegraph column, he said the UK would be forced to make further concessions to the EU and be “under its control and find ourselves in the worst of both worlds”.

Asked about the comments during at a press conference in Kenya, the Prime Minister insisted the Chequers plan “delivers on the Brexit vote”.

“The Chequers deal that we have put forward I believe is a good deal for the UK but also a good deal for the EU,” she said.

“It ensures that we can maintain a good trading relationship with the EU while having the freedom to negotiate trade deals on our own behalf with the rest of the world.”

She added that the Chequers plan delivers on a number of core demands, including ending the free movement of people, quitting the Common Agricultural Policy and ending European Court of Justice jurisdiction in the UK.

Mr Timothy had argued the plan “erased the Government’s red lines” on having a clean break with the EU on trade regulations and customs.

He argued: “The EU will say that Britain must make further concessions, including accepting free movement rules, significant annual payments to Brussels, and, perhaps, EU rules for services.

“If the Government concedes these demands, Britain will, legally speaking, leave the EU next March, but we will be under its control and find ourselves in the worst of both worlds.

“If no deal is better than a bad deal, as the Prime Minister reiterated this week, Chequers Minus is a bad deal.”

His comments received a warm welcome from former Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson, who urged the Government to "chuck Chequers".

But Mr Johnson was left red-faced today when, during the press conference, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta briefly forgot his name and referred to him as the "bicycle guy".

Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced that Britain had agreed its first post-Brexit trade agreement with six African countries.

Mrs May revealed that countries within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have agreed to “roll over” a pact that currently exists with the European Union.