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May warns Tory rebels: ‘There could be no Brexit’

Theresa May

Theresa May: ‘There is no alternative’


Prime minister Theresa May has warned there could be no Brexit if her party continues to be divided on the plan to leave the EU.

In her strongest attack yet on hardliners she says it is important for all to keep an “eye on the prize” and that she is yet to see any workable alternative to the proposals set out in her White Paper last week.

Writing for the Mail on Sunday Mrs May warns against a “disorderly and damaging Brexit” if those unhappy with the paper continue to disrupt its progress.

Critics are unhappy with the proposed “common rulebook” with the EU for traded goods and accuse the Prime Minister of betraying those who voted to sever Britain’s ties with the bloc. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned from the Cabinet after initially signing up to her plans announced at Chequers a week past Friday. Mr Johnson said afterwards that the “Brexit dream is dying”.

Mrs May, who quickly replaced the two ministers, today urges unity ahead of crucial Commons votes on trade and customs policy this week. It proposes no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK.

Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg called it a “bad deal for Britain” and US President Donald Trump told The Sun newspaper ahead of his visit to the UK last week that the proposals would “probably kill” a trade deal with his country.. He later backtracked and said a US-UK trade deal would “absolutely be possible”.

The former Brexit minister Steve Baker who resigned with Mr Davis, told the Sunday Telegraph that he had discovered a “plot” to undermine the hard Brexit that his department had been working on and claimed it would weaken the public’s trust in democracy.

Lord Mandelson, the former Labour minister, has joined the Brexiteers in saying no deal would be better than the Prime Minister’s blueprint.

Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening has called for a second referendum, labelling the prime minister’s Brexit deal a “fudge”.

Writing in The Times, the former education secretary described Mrs May’s blueprint as “the worst of both worlds”.

The final decision should be given back to the people and out of “deadlocked politicians” hands, Ms Greening says.

She states there are three options: the PM’s deal, staying in the EU or a clean break from Europe with no deal.

Ms Greening, who left the Cabinet in Januay, says the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.

Lambasting the PM’s Brexit blueprint, the MP for Putney writes: “We’ll be dragging Remain voters out of the EU for a deal that means still complying with many EU rules, but now with no say on shaping them.

“It’s not what they want, and on top of that when they hear that Leave voters are unhappy, they ask, ‘What’s the point?’

“For Leavers, this deal simply does not deliver the proper break from the European Union that they wanted.”


Daily Business Comment: Why there should be a second EU referendum


Mr Johnson is expected to make a “bombshell” statement to the House of Commons which will rekindle memories of former Chancellor Geoffrey Howe’s withering critique of Mrs Thatcher.

Mrs May has offered some reassurance to those who worry that she will make further compromises in order to reach a deal with Brussels.

“Our Brexit deal is not some long wish-list from which negotiators get to pick and choose,” she writes. “It is a complete plan with a set of outcomes that are non-negotiable.”

Sue the EU, Trump tells May

Later in a television interview, she said that during her meeting with Donald Trump, the US president had advised her to sue the EU.

“He told me I should sue the EU – not go into negotiations,” she said.

Explaining further her plans, she added:  “Some people are saying they want to vote in the Trade Bill to keep us in the customs union. I say that’s not acceptable. That’s not what the British people voted for.

“Others are saying that perhaps we cannot have the bill at all. That would be damaging to our ‘no deal’ preparations.

“So let’s just keep our eyes on the prize here. The prize is delivering leaving the European Union in a way that’s in our national interest.”

Call for Raab to address Holyrood

New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has been urged to do what his predecessor failed to do – give evidence at Holyrood’s Europe Committee and allow Scotland’s Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise Tory Brexit plans.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, who sits on Holyrood’s Europe Committee, said: “The Tories are tearing up the devolution settlement – and their white paper falls far short of protecting our economy from the worst excesses of Brexit.

“In the interests of getting off on the right foot, Dominic Raab simply has to come to Holyrood and allow these proposals to be scrutinised by MSPs.

“It was clear that his predecessor treated Scotland with contempt. Dominic Raab cannot do the same.”


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