Prime Minister Theresa May is due to open the vote debate on Tuesday
Senior figures of the government have told the Sunday Express that if MPs throw out the Prime Minister’s deal then the government is likely to put down an amendment that keeps Britain under Brussels rule in its customs union. Sources close to the Prime Minister believe that it will be the only way to “avoid crashing out with no deal” which government insiders say will be “a disaster” because “Britain is simply not ready for it”. The threat comes with opposition in the Commons hardening against the deal ahead of the meaningful vote on 11 December.
One minister referred to the proposal as “the Turkey deal for Christmas” because it mirrors Turkey’s relationship with the EU – stuck in its customs union and unable to make other trade deals without agreement from Brussels.
Senior Tories. including the party deputy chairman, have urged MPs to back the deal, saying if it failed, Brexit would be under threat.
“Let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” said James Cleverly.
With the resignation of Sam Gyimah as science minister Mrs May is faced with around 100 of her 315 MPs joining Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP and DUP in voting against the deal.
Conservative party MPJames Cleverly
Downing Street insiders have said that after she took her deal to the people last week she will be focusing on “winning over MPs” over the next week.
Mrs May is due to open the meaningful vote debate on Tuesday, while foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt and Chancellor Philip Hammond will lay out the foreign policy and economic benefits on Wednesday and Thursday.
But while one senior cabinet minister has highlighted that “there are still 10 days to win this argument”, the Government is moving towards staying in an EU customs union as its plan B option.
One senior source said: “An amendment will be put down to keep Britain in a customs union and Labour are likely to support it because it was their policy.
The Government is moving towards staying in an EU customs union as its plan B option
“Obviously, [staying in the customs union] is not ideal and it means we don’t get one of the biggest benefits Brexit but no deal is the last option we want.”
It means that the UK could not strike its own trade deals with the rest of the world and would be bound by EU trade agreements with no say in them.
The development would mean that Liam Fox’s international trade department would become redundant.
However, it keeps the UK out of the single market so allows the government to stop free movement and take back control of most of its other laws.
Also it prevents problems on the Northern Ireland land border with Ireland and nullifies attempts by Nicola Sturgeon to whip up support for a second referendum in Scotland.
A cabinet minister said: “Basically, anything could happen but the customs union option is the most likely solution.”
The minister emphasised that the government cannot allow a no deal situation “because we are simply not ready for it.
“All we have done is prepared for the worst case scenarios but we have not done any of the other preparations.
“Whatever the [Brexit] fanatics think it will be a disaster if we leave with no deal.”
But there was a gloomy assessment from within the cabinet of what would happen if the deal is refused.
The Government has been told by EU leaders that any option to act as an alternative for the deal will see them demand the full £39 billion divorce bill, even if it means preparing for no deal over a transition period.
One cabinet minister told the Sunday Express: “It is too late to try to negotiate something else.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon
“If we want longer to prepare for no deal they will give it to us but want the full [divorce] payment.
“The same is true if we decide to stay in the customs union.
“We have reached a point and this [deal] is the best we can get.”
Meanwhile, yesterday culture secretary Jeremy Wright admitted they would have to compare the deal with the “realistically available alternatives”.
PM May departs number 10 Downing Street
He said: “All of my colleagues are going to have to make their own judgment about what they think about this deal.”
He also suggested that a second referendum could still be a possibility.
He told Radio 4’ Today program: “Either we leave with we no deal, which would have serious economic consequences, or we say to the British public ‘I’m sorry you have got it wrong, you are going to have to do it again’ which I think would have serious democratic consequences.
“This isn’t a perfect deal but I think it is the best one available.”
British Minister of State for Higher Education Sam Gyimah resigned
Despite having a plan B, ministers are also braced for the government to potentially fall if Mrs May is defeated.
One cabinet minister said: “We know that if the deal is voted down on the 11th there will be a vote of no confidence in the government on the 12th and after that anything could happen.”
There were rumours last night that more “Remainer” ministers are set to follow Mr Gyimah in resigning next week in a bid to force the Prime Minister’s hand to support a second EU referendum.
However, Brexit supporters have raised concerns that the Government has been “quietly” increasing the number of Tory MPs on the payroll to try to bolster support for Mrs May’s unpopular deal.
The so-called payroll vote is made up of ministers and other MPs holding positions which are designated as being part of the government.
Brexiteers have calculated that with the inclusion of 13 party vice-chairs, members of policy committees and trade envoys, the number stands at more than 170, more than 50 per cent of the 315 Tory MPs.
However, Damian Collins, the chairman of the culture committee who was a Remainer and has said he will oppose the deal, told the Sunday Express: “If the Prime Minister can only muster the payroll vote and a few other MPs then it is hard to see how she can get through that.
“It certainly means the deal could not come back to Parliament without significant changes.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg said it will leave Britain as “a vassal state”
Boris Johnson has said it will turn the UK into a “EU colony.”
MPs from all parties have been angered by the Northern Ireland backstop agreement which the UK cannot leave unilaterally and could see Britain trapped under EU rule permanently.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said it will leave Britain as “a vassal state” while Boris Johnson has said it will turn the UK into a “EU colony.”
The proposals have united hardline Remainers and Brexiteers in opposing the deal.
However, Downing Street has insisted that the backstop is unlikely to come into being and will only happen if there is a delay over a future trade deal.
Source : EXPRESS