‘The electoral consequences could be dire’ Mr Davis, Tory MP, wrote
In a letter to Tory MPs that intensified the party row over the Brussels negotiations, the former EU exit secretary predicted “dire electoral consequences” could result from the Prime Minister’s proposals for a deal with the bloc.
His message to the party followed a warning that around 40 Brexiteer Tory MPs are ready to rebel against her plans.
In his letter Mr Davis wrote: “If we stay on our current trajectory we will go into the next election with the Government having delivered none of the benefits of Brexit.”
He feared Mrs May’s plans would mean the country would be “reduced to being a rule-take from Brussels”.
Her blueprint would fail to deliver the Brexit pledges of last year’s Tory general election manifesto and the vision set out in her speech in London’s Lancaster House last January at the start of the negotiations.
“This will not be a technicality, it will be obvious to the electorate. The electoral consequences could be dire,” Mr Davis wrote.
“So it is in both the party’s interest, and crucially in the national interest, that we reset out negotiating strategy immediately and deliver a Brexit that meets the demands of the referendum and the interests of the British people.”
President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Theresa May at Downing Street
Mr David’s letter urged the Prime Minister to dump the proposals for a deal agreed by the Cabinet at her Chequers country in July and push for a deal similar to Canada’s free trade arrangements with the EU.
He said the Chequers proposal “fails to take back control of our laws, money, borders and trade” because was based on a “common rulebook” for trade in goods, close customs links and “effective subordination to the European Court of Justice”.
Brussels had already offered a Canada-style deal, the former Cabinet minister said.
“The prize is on offer and the EU is saying it is ready to make that deal,” Mr Davis wrote, adding that the row over the Northern Irish border was a “red herring” because nobody in the negotiations wanted full border checks imposed between the province and the Irish Republic.
“It is clear that a deal which honours the referendum result, is negotiable with the EU and which would reunite our party is within our grasp with political will and imagination,” he said.
In response Mr Davis’s letter, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The simple point I would make is that a Canada-style deal for the entire UK is not on offer from the EU. What is on offer is free-trade agreement that covers Great Britain only – Northern Ireland would be kept inside the customs union and parts of the single market, effectively dividing the UK in two.
“As the Prime Minister and many others have said, that is unacceptable.”
Prime Minister delivers her speech at the Conservative Party Conference
Earlier yesterday, former Brexit minister Steve Baker warned that at least 40 Tory MPs were ready to rebel against the Prime Minister’s “Chequers” plans.
He feared the proposals would leave the UK “half in, half out” of the EU.
Such a revolt would lead to the plans being rejected by the Commons unless dozens of Labour MPs could be persuaded to support the Prime Minister’s plans.
Mr Baker, a senior figure in the hardline Brexiteer European Research Group, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The whips would be doing incredibly well if they were to halve the numbers.
“My estimate is that there are at least 40 colleagues who are not going to accept a half-in, half-out Chequers deal or indeed a backstop that leaves us in the internal market and the customs union, come what may.”
Tory former chief whip Mark Harper warned that relying on Labour voters would not work.
Mr Harper, who was a Home Office minister during Mrs May’s tenure in the department, said: “We are going to have to carry this deal on our own benches. If you’re the Prime Minister, you do have to listen to colleagues.”
In a sign of Cabinet divisions over the Chequers proposals, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who campaigned for Leave in the referendum, yesterday suggested the plan could be changed as the negotiations reached a climax.
Theresa May in the cabinet
“We don’t know where this is going to end up,” she said.
Answering questions following a speech in London, Ms Mordaunt said: “The Prime Minister can count on my support.
“But what I would say is that we don’t know where this is going to end up. We are at a critical moment now. The ball is firmly back in the EU’s court. We are waiting for them to respond.”