Crucial week for Prime Minister
Davidson and Mundell in ‘quit threat’ over Brexit deal
Ruth Davidson: unhappy over prospect of separate NI deal (pic: Terry Murden)
Theresa May is facing the possible resignation of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Scottish Secretary David Mundell as her Brexit strategy continues to unravel.
Both say they cannot support any deal which increases customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
They believe that any such arrangement could bolster the case for Scottish independence as the UK government would be agreeing to treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the country.
The PoliticsHome website says Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell have written to the Prime Minister setting out their concerns.
Mrs May is already facing the threat of Cabinet resignations by Brexiteers such as Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey.
A Scottish Tory insider is said to have told PoliticsHome that the Prime Minster was “walking the fine line of recognising Northern Ireland’s unique position and landing a deal”, but insisted that Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell’s walkout threat was real.
SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP said: “It is telling that Davidson and Mundell have not threatened resignation to protect Scotland’s place in the customs union or single market – which is eight times bigger than the UK market alone.
“The Tories are willing to impose thousands of job losses and massive damage on the country that they were elected to serve.
“After all of Davidson’s broken promises during the independence and EU referendums, and the hard-line unionism that is becoming clear for all to see, no-one can rely on a word she says.
“The Tories must stop pandering to the will of hard-line Brexiteers. Remaining in the single market and the customs union is essential for the economy, jobs and living standards – and it’s high time the Tories put that before their internal squabbles.”
Failure to achieve unity in the Cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday could spell the end for Mrs May who must also face a a crucial EU Council summit in Brussels later this week.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis has urged Cabinet ministers to “exert their collective authority” and rebel against Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal.
The PM has suggested a temporary customs arrangement for the whole UK to remain in the customs union while the Irish border issue is resolved.
Brexiteers suspect this could turn into a permanent situation, restricting the freedom to strike trade deals.