Chequers mate: Theresa May ambush routs cabinet Brexiteers

Chequers mate: Theresa May ambush routs cabinet Brexiteers

The Prime Minister secured Cabinet backing for the strategy in a marathon meeting at Chequers last week, but has since faced a backlash from hardline Brexiteers - with some questioning her leadership.

While Mays plan for exiting the European Union has not be fully revealed to all members of her party - let alone to parliament, the business community or the public - the brief outline that was released shows she supports a middle way of compromise with Brussels, keeping Britain closely aligned with Europe on standards, "a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products".

The Guardian newspaper reported that the agreement reached at Chequers among cabinet ministers represented a rapid turnaround in a 24-hour period, after the prime minister had been forced on to the defensive.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson backed the proposals at Chequers, despite claiming that defending the plans was like "polishing a turd" during the meeting.

In the Commons, Mrs May will acknowledge that there have been "robust views" around the Cabinet table and a "spirited national debate" since the 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU.

She is expected to say that since the 2016 referendum decision to leave the European Union, "I have listened to every possible idea and every possible version of Brexit".

There had been talk of resignations over the plan, which could keep Britain tied to the bloc for years after Brexit, even if officials stress parliament would reserve the right to diverge.

Pro-EU Tory Anna Soubry said she would "always welcome" a policy that delivers a "business friendly Brexit", adding that she had "no doubt" the Prime Minister would now enforce Cabinet discipline. She refused to rule out offering European Union citizens some form of special status as part of a proposed new "mobility framework".

The entire cabinet was summoned by Mrs May and spent over 12 hours thrashing out the proposals which will act as the basis for what the British government would like UK's future relationship with the European Union to look like.

Letters calling for a leadership contest have reportedly been submitted to the backbench 1922 Committee. "I'm disappointed that so-called Brexiters in the cabinet didn't pick up the cudgels and fight for a better offer".


Veteran Tory Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash told Sky that discussions were now being held as to whether Mrs May's plans amounted to a "proper Brexit".

The plan was "the ultimate statement of managing decline" and "focuses on avoiding risk, not on the world of opportunity outside the EU".

James Cleverly, a deputy chairman of the party who attended the Saturday morning briefing, said: "I went in there with some concerns as a Brexiteer and I come out with those concerns addressed".

Appearing on the BBC's The Andrew Marr sShow on Sunday, he said: "I'm a realist and one of the things about politics is you mustn't, you shouldn't, make the flawless the enemy of the good. And one of the things about this compromise is that it unites the Cabinet".

The Environment Secretary has warned Brussels that ministers have agreed to "step up" no-deal preparations and that if it remains "ungenerous and inflexible" Theresa May will have to "contemplate walking away".

"But it leaves only one credible contender with the integrity and backbone to follow Mrs May: Jacob Rees-Mogg".

The Chequers proposals "lead directly to a worst-of-all-worlds "black hole" Brexit where the United Kingdom is stuck permanently as a vassal state in the EU's legal and regulatory tarpit", the briefing by Martin Howe QC concluded.

Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris said the package was "realistic" and Brexiteers now had to be "grown up" about it.

However, furious pro-Brexit MPs criticised Brexiter cabinet ministers, including David Davis, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom, for failing to take a stronger stand against the government's proposed offer to the European Union, including quitting the cabinet. We are now pursuing a fragile "least worst" option.

May was forced to ditch her preferred option for a customs partnership, which would have seen Britain collecting tariffs on goods entering the country on the EU's behalf, under pressure from Brexit campaigners in her government.

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