David Davis: Tories heading for election defeat unless Theresa May ditches Chequers Brexit plan

Posted On: 
9th October 2018

The Conservatives are on course for defeat at the next election if Theresa May refuses to budge on her Brexit plan, David Davis has warned his fellow MPs.

David Davis quit the Cabinet over the Chequers plan
PA Images

In a stark intervention, the former Brexit Secretary said the "electoral consequences could be dire" if the Prime Minister fails to dump the controversial Chequers blueprint agreed by the Cabinet in July.

And he attacked warnings by Mrs May that Brexit might not happen if the Tories fail to unite - as well as reports that she hopes to use the support of Labour MPs to ger her deal through the Commons.

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Under the Chequers proposals, the UK would maintain close economic ties with Brussels by agreeing a common rule book on standards, while also collecting tariffs on behalf of the EU.

But in a letter to Conservative MPs, Mr Davis - who quit the Cabinet over the Chequers plan - said its shortcomings will be "very obvious to the electorate" the next time they go to the polls.

“If we stay on our current trajectory we will go into the next election with the Government having delivered none of the benefits of Brexit, with the country reduced to being a rule taker from Brussels and having failed to deliver on a number of promises in the manifesto and in the Lancaster House speech,” he said.

“The electoral consequences could be dire. So it is in both the party's interest, and crucially the national interest, that we reset our negotiating strategy immediately and deliver a Brexit that meets the demands of the referendum and the interests of the British people.”

Mr Davis said a free trade deal similar to that enjoyed between the EU and Canada was a “third way,” and pointed to comments by European Council president Donald Tusk last week that a "Canada+++" agreement could be reached.

The Tory grandee said: “It is clear that a deal which honours the referendum result, is negotiable with the EU and which would reunite our party is within our grasp, with political will and imagination.

“This is doubly important in the face of the most extreme left-wing Labour party in living memory.

“There is no need for either preposterous threats, in order to justify Chequers, of 'losing Brexit' or using Labour votes to get a discredited 'Chequers minus' through Parliament.”

Elsewhere today, pro-Brexit minister Penny Mordaunt failed to fully endorse the Chequers plan, saying only that she was backing the PM in the negotiations, but noting: “All that matters is where we end up.”

Responding to Mr Davis's letter, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "The simple point I would make is that a Canada-style deal for the entire United Kingdom is not on offer from the European Union.

"What is on offer is a free trade agreement which covers Great Britain only. Northern Ireland would be kept inside the customs union and parts of the single market, effectively dividing the United Kingdom in two. As the Prime Minister and many others have said that is unacceptable."