Michael Gove urges hardline Tory Brexiteers to back Prime Minister's Chequers plan

  • Michael Gove urges hardline Tory Brexiteers to back Prime Minister's Chequers plan

Michael Gove urges hardline Tory Brexiteers to back Prime Minister's Chequers plan

Theresa May's desperate attempts to unite her party and country behind a new Brexit blueprint were under severe strain on Saturday night, as more than 100 entrepreneurs and founders of United Kingdom businesses dismissed it as unworkable - and hardline anti-EU Tory MPs warned it could mean an outcome worse than "no deal" at all.

Repeatedly pressed on whether the new immigration system would offer preferential access to EU citizens, Mrs May said: "We need to look at that in the context of the wider rules we have for immigration from outside of the European Union and we will decide the rules that are right for the United Kingdom".

A "facilitated customs arrangement" would operate under a "combined customs territory".

But time is running out to secure a deal before Britain leaves the bloc in March.

Pro-European MPs who had previously rebelled against May also offered their support for the plan, with Anna Soubry saying it "delivers a business friendly Brexit". He is said to have warned colleagues it could be a "serious inhibitor to free trade" and striking deals with other countries.

Cabinet sources say he told the Prime Minister: "Anyone defending the proposal we have just agreed will find it like trying to polish a turd".

But environment secretary Mr Gove, who campaigned for Brexit alongside Mr Johnson in the 2016 referendum, told the BBC's Andrew Marr show he was satisfied the solution would "honour" the result of the vote.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it was positive that Britain had now presented its position but "of course there are many open questions and there are certain areas where at the moment we haven't had chance to agree".

Asked if Mrs May's offer was all he had hoped for, he replied: "No, but then I'm a realist and one of the things about politics is you mustn't, you shouldn't, make the ideal the enemy of the good".

She said: "It was very clear that we have taken this deal and we want to move forward together in the interest the United Kingdom".

If Mrs May's red lines have "turned pink", he said he would not vote for the plan - and claimed a "very soft Brexit means that we haven't left".

Mrs May insisted that the United Kingdom would regain control of its borders, but refused to rule out giving European Union citizens preferential treatment under the future immigration policy.

Media reports on Saturday said May had told her cabinet ministers they now had to adhere to the convention of cabinet responsibility. She refused to rule out offering European Union citizens some form of special status as part of a proposed new "mobility framework".

THERESA May sought to bind internal critics into publicly supporting her Brexit policy, sending ministers out to make the case for it in newspapers and on the airwaves, as opponents on both sides began to point out shortfalls with her proposals.

The plans propose that trade in industrial and agricultural products should be governed by a "common rulebook" that effectively continues current European Union standards and prevents delays at ports and airports.

He added that "it is possible that this deal is worse" than a "no deal" Brexit. He suggested his support for the prime minister was not unconditional. "If she sticks with this deal, I have no confidence in it".

Mr Jones said, on the face of it, the proposals announced on Friday breached Mrs May's own Brexit "red lines" that the United Kingdom would leave the customs union and single market. Yes, the PM avoided the resignations that could have torn her Government apart and sparked a leadership challenge, a move that would in turn have triggered demands for another snap general election. "It is going to unravel and she will have to think again".

"A deal that guarantees us access to the (EU's single market) until such time as we chose regulatory divergence?".

May will make a statement to the House of Commons tomorrow and then address the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs in the evening in an attempt to bind her MPs behind the proposals thrashed out and agreed during Friday's marathon four-hour meeting.