With an historic summit underway today where Mrs May and the leaders of the 27 members of the EU will sign the Withdrawal Agreement, the Prime Minister promised “a brighter future” awaits the country if MPs accept her proposal. She hopes voter pressure will persuade waverers in Parliament to vote her way. But in a warning to the Government in today’s Sunday Express Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that he and many other Brexiteers will not support the deal in the Commons vote, expected on Wednesday 12 December.
After being compared to Captain Mainwaring earlier this week, the leader of the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteer Tory MPs took a quote from the Dad’s Army hero reminding Mrs May: “There are thousands of us all over Great Britain who will stand up for our freedom.”
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson was hailed in Belfast as he told the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that the Northern Ireland backstop which could keep Britain under Brussels rule for years to come must be ditched.
He compared the deal to the Titanic, adding: “Now is the time to point to the iceberg ahead.”
Mrs May’s attempt to win over the public came amid growing evidence yesterday that she will struggle to win support in Parliament for the deal with both Tory Leavers and Remainers vowing to oppose it.
Former minister Robert Halfon yesterday Tweeted that he would not sign up to a deal which could see Britain pay out billions to the EU for little in return.
Remainer Tory MP Phillip Lee, who hopes defeat in the Commons will lead to a rerun of the referendum, also yesterday Tweeted: “The government’s claim that a vote against the Withdrawal Agreement will let in Corbyn & his team couldn’t be more wrong. What will let them in is pushing through a ‘deal’ unwanted by Remainers & reviled by Leavers without giving the people a final say on this Brexit.”
Theresa May wrote an open letter to the nation asking the public to back her deal with the EU
The first part of Theresa May’s letter to Britain
Prime Minister Theresa May travelled to Brussels for a meeting with the EU Council
And in Belfast, DUP leader Arlene Foster confirmed that her party opposes the deal and will review its confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives.
ERG sources have said at least 40 Brexiteer Tories will rebel while it is thought up to 12 Remainer Tories will also vote against the deal.
Downing Street sources have said they believe “we will win the vote” and it has been claimed they may have the backing of up to 35 Labour MPs.
The Prime Minister’s letter comes after a frenzied week of talks as the Government machine has tried to push the deal through.
Today it has published a list of 40 reasons to back the Brexit deal.
On Friday political journalists were brought in for an hour and a half hard sell of the deal from Mrs May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell with similar meetings throughout the week for MPs and business figures.
Addressing people who backed Brexit in her letter, Mrs May made it clear that she believes her deal delivers on the EU referendum result in 2016.
She wrote: “It will honour the result of the referendum.
“We will take back control of our borders, by putting an end to the free movement of people once and for all. Instead of an immigration system based on where a person comes from, we will build one based on the skills and talents a person has to offer.
“We will take back control of our money, by putting an end to vast annual payments to the EU. Instead, we will be able to spend British taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, like the extra £394 million per week that we are investing in our long-term plan for the NHS.
“And we will take back control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.
“In future, our laws will be made, interpreted and enforced by our own courts and legislatures.”
Addressing concerns over the Northern Ireland backstop, she added: “Crucially, [the deal] will protect the integrity of our United Kingdom and ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – so people can live their lives as they do now.”
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, welcomes British PM Theresa May
But in the Sunday Express today, Jacob Rees-Mogg described the deal as “a failure.”
He warned: “Not only will the UK’s ability to set its own laws be compromised but so will taxation. The treaty allows the EU to set the UK’s tariffs as part of the backstop provisions.
“It would be illegal for them to be reduced so taxation without representation is a feature of this agreement.
“This denies the UK a key benefits of leaving, the possibility to have lower prices for food, clothing and footwear.
“Yet the constitutional principle of consent for taxation from Parliament on behalf of the people is more important than the loss of a future opportunity. It shows a wanton disregard for good governance.”
Speaking in Belfast, Mr Johnson, who still remains the favourite to replace Mrs May as Tory leader and Prime Minister, demanded that the backstop is ditched.
He said the UK was on the verge of “making a historic mistake”.
“If we are not careful, we are going to stay in the customs union, we are going to stay in the single market, we are going to be rules takers,” he said.
“Unless we junk this backstop, we will find that Brussels has got us exactly where they want us – a satellite state.
“We will continue to accept the terms under which they have a surplus in trade in goods with us of £95 billion. But with no power, no British influence on those terms. We won’t be able to do free trade deals of any value or significance.”
The former foreign secretary, who resigned over the Chequers Brexit plans, said the EU would have no incentive to let the UK leave the backstop arrangement, noting that the multibillion-pound divorce bill would have already been paid.
“This deal risks yet further economic and political humiliation,” he added.
“We are locking ourselves in by treaty and making it impossible to negotiate our way out in the second half of the talks.
“This is not what people of the United Kingdom voted for. It is self-evidently not taking back control of our laws.”
He said that it is “not too late” to renegotiate the deal and bring something back that works for Britain.
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council on November 24
40 Reasons to Back Brexit, by Prime Minister Theresa May
1. Free movement will come to an end, once and for all, with the introduction of a new skills-based immigration system.
2. We will take back full control of our money which we will be able to spend on our priorities such as the NHS. We will leave EU regional funding programmes – with the UK deciding how we spend this money in the future.
3. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK will end.
4. In the future we will make our own laws in our own Parliaments and Assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
5. We will leave the Common Agricultural Policy.
6. We will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and become an independent coastal state again, with control over our waters.
7. We will be able to strike trade deals with other countries around the world. Deals can be negotiated and ratified during the implementation period and put in place straight afterwards.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said that he and many other Brexiteers will not support the deal in the Commons vote
8. We will be an independent voice for free trade on the global stage, speaking for ourselves at the World Trade Organisation, for the first time in decades.
9. We will be freed from the EU’s political commitment to ever close union.
10. We will be out of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, recognising the UK’s long track record in protecting human rights.
11. A fair settlement of our financial obligations, which will be less than half what was originally predicted.
12. Both the one million UK citizens living in the EU and the three million EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights legally guaranteed so they can carry on living their lives as before.
13. We will have a free trade area with the EU, with no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitate restrictions across all sectors, helping to protect UK jobs. We will be the only major economy with such a relationship with the EU.
14. We’ve agreed with the EU that we will be as ambitious as possible in easing the movement of goods between the UK and the EU as part of our free trade area.
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15. We will have an implementation period after we leave the EU during which trade will continue much as it does now. This will allow Government, businesses and citizens time to prepare for our new relationship.
16. The deal will see a greater reduction in barriers to trade in services than in any previous trade deal.
17. There will be an agreement that means UK citizens can practice their profession in the EU.
18. A comprehensive deal that secures access to the EU market for our financial services sector meaning the EU cannot withdraw it on a whim. This will provide stability and certainty for the industry.
19. A best in class agreement on digital, helping to facilitate e-commerce and reduce unjustified barriers to trade by electronic means.
20. We have agreed that there will be arrangements that will let data continue to flow freely, vital across our economy and for our shared security.
21. Trade arrangements for gas and electricity will help to ease pressure on prices and keep supply secure.
The Prime Minister promised “a brighter future” awaits the country if MPs accept her proposal
22. Strong rules will be in place to keep trade fair, so neither the UK nor EU can unfairly subsidies their industries against the other.
23. We will have a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and comparable access for freight operators, buses and coaches.
24. We have agreed that there will be arrangements so we can take part in EU programmes like Horizon and Erasmus.
25. There will be a co-operation agreement with Euratom, covering all the key areas where we want to collaborate.
26. Visa-free travel to the EU for holidays and business trips will continue.
27. Our new security partnership will mean sharing of data like DNA, passengers records and fingerprints to fight crime and terrorism, going beyond any previous agreement the EU has made with a third country.
28. Our new security partnership will enable the efficient and swift surrender of suspected and wanted criminals.
29. Close co-operation for our police forces and other law enforcement bodies.
30. We will continue to work together on sanctions against those who violate international rules.
31. We will work together on cyber-security threats and support international efforts to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
32. Disputes between the UK and the EU on the agreement will be settled by an independent arbitrator, ensuring a fair outcome.
33. We will meet our commitment to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
34. We will keep the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland, ensuring everyday life continues as now.
35. We will keep the Single Electricity Market between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which will help maintain a stable energy supply and keep prices down in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister’s letter comes after a frenzied week of talks
36. Both sides will be legally committed, by the Withdrawal Agreement, to use “best endeavours” to get the future relationship in place by the end of the implementation period, helping to ensure the backstop is never used.
37. An agreement to consider alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, including all facilitative arrangements and technologies, and to begin preparatory work on this before we leave the EU, reflecting shared determination to replace the backstop.
38. In the unlikely event we do have to use the backstop, a UK-wide customs area will ensure there is no customs border in the Irish Sea.
39. Gibraltar’s British sovereignty will be protected.
40. The deal delivers on the referendum result. It takes back control of our money, borders and laws whilst protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the United Kingdom.