Top Ministers Turn on May and Soft Brexit Plan After Second Referendum Threats

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Top Cabinet ministers are turning their backs on the Prime Minister, as she threatens the only way to leave the European Union (EU) under her leadership is according to the Chequers plan for a soft Brexit.

Theresa May reaffirmed this week her stance that the UK is likely to leave the Brussels bloc without a deal unless her plan to keep the UK aligned to many customs, trade, and goods regulations is accepted.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Melvyn Stride, who is loyal to Mrs May, has even threatened that MPs must back her plan or face a second referendum.

However, sources have told The Times that those opposed to her strategy now include Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and the home secretary Sajid Javid.

Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG), led by top backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, have said their preferred option is securing a free trade deal with the bloc, but also say the “no deal” option is better than Chequers.

Mr Hunt, Javid, and Raab and others do not see the “no deal” option as acceptable and reportedly want to see Mrs May push for a Canada-style free trade deal if the bloc rejects the Chequers plan – as EU bosses have repeatedly indicated, most recently at the EU summit in Austria last week.

The bloc could reject Mrs May’s proposals again at a summit on October 18th, after which the senior ministers want her to change tact – in line with Mr Rees-Mogg and the ERG.

“We don’t want a no-deal and lots of people think her tactic means we can get there by accident,” one source said. “We think that a Canada deal is better than no deal.”

Mrs May appears to agree with the EU, that there is no way to keep the Irish border open if the UK does not stay aligned to EU rules on goods. The ERG and free market think tanks, meanwhile, say technology can be used to do checks on the border.

Meanwhile, as the Tory Party turns against the Chequers plan, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has hinted he could back it, potentially rescuing the plan if it means remaining in some sort of customs union with the bloc.

“If you deliver a deal that includes a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, if you protect jobs, people’s rights at work and environmental and consumer standards, then we will support that sensible deal,” he told the Labour conference.

However, if her Brexit plan fails to get through Parliament, sources have claimed Mrs May is planning for a general election as early as November – something supported by Mr Corbyn and Labour.


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