‘Turkey Trap’: Foreign Secretary Blasted May’s Brexit Deal and Customs ‘Front Stop’

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Britain’s Foreign Secretary told the Prime Minister her Brexit deal was a “Turkey trap”, risking locking the UK in negotiations with the European Union (EU) for more than 30 years, just like Turkey has been.

The phrase used by Jeremy Hunt – usually worded “turkey shoot” – can also mean an easily set trap or conflict in which the aggressor has an overwhelming advantage.

Turkey, a major eastern neighbour to the European Union first applied to join the continental power bloc in 1987 and has been locked in negotiations since, with progress having largely stalled for years.

Several European Union member states oppose Turkey joining, and the difficulty in making progress in the face of this opposition to change to the composition to the European Union is in some respects similar to the United Kingdom’s attempt at doing the opposite and leave the EU.

Foreign Secretary Hunt, who was against Brexit during the referendum campaign, also warned Mrs May that Parliament was likely to vote down her unpopular deal, according to leaked notes from a Cabinet meeting seen by The Telegraph.

He was one of six Cabinet ministers to highlight the likelihood of a massive Tory rebellion over Brexit if Mrs May pushed ahead, with Mr Hunt saying 66 Conservative MPs could vote it down.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, also criticised the proposals, pointing out they could leave the UK unable to strike free trade deals after Brexit and urging the prime minister to negotiate better terms.

During the crunch Cabinet session, Mr Hunt also said the customs backstop could act as a “front stop”, implying the EU could use it to trap the UK inside the bloc’s regulations instead of merely deploying it to keep the Irish border open if a trade deal is not struck.

The Government, he argued, must push for “incentives” to stop the UK becoming indefinitely trapped in the backstop and reduced to a “satellite” of the EU, accepting many of its rules with no say in setting them.

The Environment Secretary Michael Gove was also “worried” by this possibility, saying the backstop could leave Northern Ireland in the “deep end” and tied more closely to the EU’s Customs Union and the Single Market, separated from the rest of the UK.

The bloc could keep the UK locked in the backstop and use it as a “baseline” for the future relationship, he warned.

He too was concerned “very much” that the Government will lose the parliamentary vote on the proposals but added a “no-deal” Brexit would also be “very difficult” to get through the Commons.

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