Chequers plan for Brexit will boost Ukip, David Davis warns Theresa May
Quitting the EU on the basis of the Chequers plan devised by Theresa May will lend a boost to populist parties like Ukip, David Davis said today.
The former Brexit Secretary said the blueprint for quitting the bloc was “devoid of democracy” and would “feed the electoral fortunes of European populist parties”.
And he suggested the EU was using the Irish border issue to “punish” the UK, and said the bloc was acting like “an antagonist” in talks.
Mr Davis quit the Cabinet in protest when the Chequers deal was signed off in July and has since joined hardline pro-Brexit Tory MPs in a bitter fight against the plan.
They argue proposals to stay tied to EU goods rules and collect tariffs on behalf of Brussels for a portion of imports will leave the UK too closely tied to the bloc.
In a scathing speech today, Mr Davis said the Chequers strategy would leave Britain “governed by a body that we have no control over”.
“If a deal like this is accepted by both sides, resentment among the British people would swiftly return, distrust in politicians would deepen and it would feed the electoral fortunes of European populist parties,” he told an audience at the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Munich.
“Chequers, then, is in no one’s interests. The EU is often correctly described as having a democratic deficit. But Chequers is devoid of democracy altogether.”
On the thorny question of keeping the Northern Irish border open, Mr Davis added: “It seems to me this issue has become the proxy for the negotiations as a whole. Why?
“Perhaps as a way to keep us tied to the single market and the customs union; perhaps to punish us for leaving; or perhaps it has more to do with internal Irish politics.”
And he said: “In the aftermath of our referendum vote, it was understandable that many of our continental friends were dismayed or even angry.
“However, this irritation with our decision has transformed into an entrenched view that ‘the United Kingdom cannot be seen to succeed’.
“Senior politicians here in Germany have said exactly that. It seems to me that this is the attitude not of an ally, or of a friend, but of an antagonist.”
Mr Davis was unable to produce his own plan for Brexit, but said he and fellow Tory backbenchers would "shortly" reveal a set of proposals for the future relationship with the bloc.
'DEAD AS A DODO'
The scathing attack on the Chequers plan by Mr Davis came as a former ally of Mrs May broke cover to brand the blueprint “dead as a dodo”.
Mike Penning, a former Home Office minister who helped run Theresa May's 2016 leadership campaign, accused the Prime Minister of a "massive insult" by asking Tory MPs to back it.
He said: "To say to the likes of myself: 'It’s Chequers or a hard Brexit'. It’s like making us sit on the naughty step at school."
At a summit meeting in Salzberg last night, Mrs May called on her 27 EU counterparts to "respond in kind" to what she called the "serious and workable" Chequers proposals.