Tory Brexiteers ramp up pressure on PM with ‘positive’ rival blueprint for leaving the EU without trade deal

  • Theresa May facing fresh challenge over her Chequers plan for eaving the EU
  • Brexiteers are preparing a rival proposal for a hard departure from the bloc
  • The document could be published next month and heap pressure on the PM 

Tory Brexiteers are plotting to ramp up the pressure on Theresa May by producing their own ‘positive’ plan for a hard departure from the EU.

The rival blueprint to the PM’s Chequers plan, expected to be published next month, will set out the advantages of quitting the bloc on basic World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.

It is likely to leave open the possibility of a Canada-style agreement, but only if Brussels backs down on demands for Northern Ireland to be effectively split off from the rest of the UK.

The paper, which could be endorsed by up to 80 Tory MPs, will heap difficulties on Mrs May as she struggles to hold the Conservatives together.

The paper, which could be endorsed by up to 80 Tory MPs, will heap difficulties on Theresa May (pictured at a commemoration in Amiens last week) as she struggles to hold the Conservatives together

Boris Johnson (pictured left this week) has already quit over the Chequers plan. Jacob Rees-Mogg is said to be putting together the rival blueprint

Her controversial Chequers plan, which would mean accepting EU rules for goods and collecting some tariffs on behalf of the bloc, has already triggered resignations from Cabinet – including that of Boris Johnson.

The Brexiteer plan is being put together by Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, according to The Times.

He is said to be cooperating with former Brexit minister Steve Baker to assemble the ‘alternative view’ to the government’s white paper.

The document could be presented as a ‘common position’ by Conservative members of the ERG, posing a serious threat to the government’s official position.

Downing Street will fear that the intervention could turn Brussels off engaging seriously with Mrs May’s proposals, because they might not make it through Parliament.

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However, there are questions over whether the ERG will be able to thrash out its own collective position.

One MP told The Times: ‘We have made it very clear that we do not accept the Chequers proposals, but there is an acknowledgement that we need to make the case for an alternative.

‘The tricky bit is coming to a common position that everyone can sign up to, but I’m confident that we should be able to achieve that.’ 

Conservative former cabinet minister Lord Lilley, an ERG member, wrote in the newspaper that while a Canadian-style trade deal would be ‘the best outcome’, no deal ‘would be a good second best’.

‘The Chequers plan is moribund and the agreement offered by the EU in March is unacceptable because the ‘Irish backstop’ means splitting the UK,’ he wrote. 

‘No deal is likely and would be a good second best, making a better deal possible later.’

Brexiteers believe Mrs May’s plan will be rejected by Brussels. She is pictured with Jean-Claude Juncker agreeing the divorce deal in December 



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