THERESA May is being urged by top Tories to drop her plan to keep Britain under key EU rules post-Brexit in order to get a deal with Brussels.
The comments heap further pressure on the Prime Minister who is already scrambling to salvage her Irish border deal after it was derailed by the DUP.
She needs to get the party on side but its leader Arlene Foster refused to come to London yesterday, and then wouldn’t even speak to Mrs May on the phone, insisting they were too far apart to “talk woman to woman”.
But after a spokesman for the DUP said there were "no plans today" for Ms Foster to call No10, it appears the two finally spoke this morning.
But a former Tory leader called on Mrs May to stop trying to win the unionist party over and drop the plan for so-called “regulatory alignment” – and walk away from talks if the EU insisted on it.
Iain Duncan-Smith said: “We cannot sign up to regulatory alignment. It means we can’t do trade deals.
“These are demands that are designed to box us in. We have to say to them, ‘not good enough’. We simply can’t pay this price.”
And the leading backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Adam Smith Institute think-tank last night that Mrs May risks becoming "a puppet on a string dancing to the tune of Jean-Claude Juncker".
And it emerged that she does not have the support of all of her Cabinet for the offer of “a common set of goals” in limited areas such as agriculture and energy to satisfy Dublin’s demand for no hard border in Ireland.
The PM had not told her senior ministers about it before she had lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Monday.
And when they got round the table yesterday morning Boris Johnson spoke out against it, telling Mrs May that he “would worry if regulatory alignment bound us into the EU”.
A senior Whitehall source told The Sun: “Cabinet is in the dark about what the PM is doing now, which is a very strange state of affairs to be in”.
No10 aides insisted last night Mr Johnson was reassured that the PM’s offer was only an emergency solution in the “unlikely” scenario that the UK fails to win a good trade deal.
But it leaves Mrs May fighting on two fronts as she tries to pacify hard-line Brexiteers who have demanded a clean break from Brussels, as well as the DUP who fear the plan favours Dublin.
And time is running out for her to rescue the situation before the crucial leaders’ summit on December 14.
After the deal was aborted on Monday following Ms Foster’s intervention during their lunch, Mrs May promised Mr Juncker she would return to Brussels this week with the issues ironed out.
But with the European Commission boss busy on Friday it doesn’t give the PM very long to get her partners in Government squared away.
It has led to the optimism at the start of the week that there would finally be an end to the deadlock on “sufficient progress” on the first phase draining out of Downing Street.
Without a swift change of heart by the DUP it now seems unlikely an agreement will be done before the EU council later this month, which would be disastrous for Mrs May’s Brexit plans.
It will mean the negotiations cannot move onto the second phase – the crucial transition and future trade arrangements – until March at the earliest, just a year out from when we exit the bloc.
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