May demands rebels back her plan or risk 'no Brexit'

Blanche Robertson
July 15, 2018

"The momentum and the situation call for ruthless realism".

Former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith said he had "deep misgivings" about the white paper; veteran Brexit hardliner Bill Cash declared himself "deeply anxious;" and Andrew Bridgen, who has already sent a letter expressing no confidence in May to party authorities, said he "and many colleagues" had "grave concerns" about the path the government is now on, Politico reported.

Mr Trump said it seemed the Prime Minister's plans meant the United Kingdom was "getting at least partially involved back with the European Union".

Winning the backing of the DUP for one of the amendments is particularly significant because the Northern Irish unionist party had promised to support May's government in confidence votes and Brexit policy, after the Conservatives lost their overall majority in the 2017 election.

A year later, commentators said recent events show she has firmly chosen the moderate side with a plan for Brexit, to be fully detailed on Thursday, that envisages close regulatory alignment with the European Union to allow unhindered trade in goods.

Thomson said that while the Scottish Tory group was a "broad church", the support for the government's Brexit strategy was "disproportionate" to the level of support for Leave in Scotland.

The plan has unleashed a rebellion by Brexit hardliners who fear it may prevent Britain from concluding free-trade agreements with third countries and effectively turn the country into a "vassal state" or "colony" of the EU.

The plan, however, seems to have sown discord among her Cabinet, with senior figures such as David Davis, the chief Brexit negotiator, and Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, resigning in protest.

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There was no immediate judgment on the White Paper by the European Union, whose chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said only that he would assess its contents to see if they were "workable and realistic" ahead of negotiations with Mr Raab next week.

He said: "My constituency is a very big Leave constituency, I've had a very small number of emails making a comment about this deal".

On Monday, Johnson was expected to participate in a press conference alongside his German and Polish counterparts on the sidelines of the Western Balkans Summit taking place in London.

"What we want to do now is to bring the negotiating progress forward", she said.

It also contains a slightly surprising requirement for a new British-Irish deal to keep the trains running across the border.

The pro-sovereignty campaign, which advocates Britain exit the Single Market and its Free Movement regime cleanly, said in a statement: "This white paper is a complete capitulation and our government has become a national embarrassment".

Commentators have also observed a new firmness shown by May in the negotiations and her increasingly overt challenge to the "Brexiteers" to try to take her down. According to media reports, Johnson strongly criticized the plan.

"This would be the ultimate betrayal of the Brexit vote".

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