Pro-Brexit Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt puts Theresa May on notice over Chequers plan
Anti-EU Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt today warned Theresa May not to water down her Brexit proposals any further - raising the prospect of a fresh frontbench resignation.
The International Development Secretary said she would be supporting the PM in the negotiations but noted: “All that matters is where we end up.”
The comments by Ms Mordaunt come as the Brexit talks enter their crucial final stage - with the Prime Minister set for a crunch European Council meeting with fellow EU leaders in less than 10 days’ time.
Mrs May has already suffered two Cabinet resignations and a string of lower-rank figures walked out over the plans to leave the UK tied to some EU trade rules on goods.
The Chequers plan would also see Britain collecting tariffs on behalf of the bloc on a number of imports in a bid to keep the border with Northern Ireland fully open.
Asked after a speech in London whether she was backing the PM’s plan, Ms Mordaunt said: “The Prime Minister can count on my support but what I would say is we don’t know where this is going to end up.
“We’re at a critical moment now...The issue currently is that the ball is firmly back in the EU’s court.”
She added: “I do feel strongly that I need to stand up for what is in the national interest... And I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that is the best deal possible.
“I feel very strongly that we must honour the result of the referendum - we must honour the expectations of the British public in making that decision.”
Asked whether the Prime Minister could count on her support in the future, Ms Mordaunt said: “She has my support and I’m not expecting that situation in any way to change.”
Ms Mordaunt was one of two Cabinet ministers who was yet to comment on the Chequers proposals - and there were rumours of a bust-up with Number 10 about her failure to mention it in her speech today.
Pro-Brexit Tories fear that the Chequers proposals are merely an opening negotiation from which the Government will only concede more ground to Brussels.
It was reported yesterday that top ministers will give Mrs May one final chance to win EU support for her Chequers Brexit plan before demanding an alternative.