Theresa May’s Brexit plans are under new pressure today, with allies and opponents reportedly united in expressing concern that it is ‘the worst of both worlds’.
The Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals were dealt another blow last week when Transport Minister Jo Johnson resigned.
He demanded a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit as he did, saying the country faced a choice between ‘vassalage’ under Mrs May’s deal and the ‘chaos’ of a hard Brexit.
The BBC reports today that several of Mrs May’s own cabinet are now expressing ‘significant doubts’ about her preferred Brexit options.
Two of them told the BBC they believe it is unlikely to win Parliamentary approval and had been viewed as ‘disappointing’ and ‘worrying’ by many of her team from the start.
It leaves Mrs May fighting to get her plan through on multiple fronts, with opposition from within her own party, the Labour opposition and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
That leaves her in a vulnerable position as she attempts to secure agreement ahead of a crucial meeting with EU leaders in Brussels later this month.
Mrs May’s Chequers plan for Brexit was agreed in July, although many ministers who signed up for it now say they had doubts from the start.
It triggered the resignations of Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – Jo’s elder brother – who said the plan left the UK to closely tied to the EU.
Now it has emerged that senior Tory Remainers and Brexiteers all have serious concerns about different aspects of the proposals, according to the BBC.
They are said to include Brexit-backing ministers including Liam Fox and Chris Grayling and Remain loyalists such as Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Others said to have doubts include Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom, defence secretary Gavin Williamson and leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Evans.
One former cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour he doubted if Mrs May could remain in office if Parliament rejected any deal she put before them.
Former culture secretary John Whittingdale said: “I think it’s quite difficult to see how the prime minister can continue because she has staked her credibility.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: “Everyone has to move a little to get a deal that works for everyone on both sides of the argument.”
What is the Chequers Plan?
- Theresa May’s Brexit blueprint was agreed after a 12-hour meeting at her country retreat, Chequers, in July.
- It calls for the UK to enjoy tariff-free trade with the EU while still being able to strike trade deals with the rest of the world.
- Under the proposals, the UK would collect tariffs on goods entering the country on behalf of the EU, if they are being sent to countries within the EU.
- This would remove the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
- The Chequers plan, as it became known, would tie the UK to a common EU rule book on a range of regulatory issues to avoid hold-ups at the border.
- Free movement of people would end under the plan.