THE TORIES’ civil war over Brexit continued to rage yesterday after PM May received a letter from 30 Tory MPs. The letter urged her to get tough with the EU negotiators over a Brexit deal.
The MPs including ex-Ministerial aide Andrea Jenkyns urged May not to extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 2020. The signatories also want no extension to the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction after the transition period.
They also don’t accept remaining part of a customs union or a deal that stops Ministers from forging new trade deals and insist on no free or preferential movement of people from the EU. The list of eight demands also includes not accepting ‘any deal without robust conditionality, linking the £39 billion financial settlement with a satisfactory free trade agreement and any part of the United Kingdom being treated differently from the rest’.
The letter states: ‘Our departure must be absolute. We must not remain entangled with the EU’s institutions if this restricts our ability to exercise our sovereignty as an independent nation. ‘Anything less will be a weakening of our democracy. Britain must stand firm.’ Jenkyns said: ‘I stand united with over 30 colleagues who are concerned with the direction of the Brexit negotiations.
‘We must be clear to those in the Cabinet, and on the back benches, that we will not sit back and allow a small minority to dominate the agenda. ‘No one must be allowed to undermine the democratic vote of the people.
‘We must get tough with the European Union and demonstrate that we are prepared to walk away.’
The chairman of the Tory 1922 Committee, which appointed May in 2016 after the referendum result saw the backs of Cameron and Osborne, has urged the party to unite behind May.
Graham Brady warned: ‘The danger of disunity at the top of the party is not just that it makes the prime minister’s job more difficult in negotiations with Brussels and therefore puts at risk the good Brexit deal that is in reach, it also gives an impression of division to the country.’ He further warned voters ‘rejected decisively the divided Tory party in 1997. If we were to let Labour in again, it would be a disaster for this country.’
His warning followed a Sunday Times report that up to 20 MPs are preparing to run for leader if May falls and a handful are actively recruiting backers. The paper claimed they include: Sajid Javid, the home secretary; Michael Gove, the environment secretary; and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, who is inviting groups of eight to 10 MPs to sandwich lunches in parliament to discuss the NHS in an attempt to further his hopes.
Defence ministers are planning to enlist the support of the royal family to force May to accept the case for more spending, just days after Gavin Williamson was accused of threatening to ‘break’ the prime minister in a bitter row over military funding. May and her cabinet are due to meet at Chequers on Friday as they look to agree on a blueprint for the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Tory cabinet minister, Local Government Secretary James Brokenshire was asked by Andrew Marr yesterday: ‘Is the cabinet divided?’
He said: ‘I think there’s no doubt there are strong views on either side . . . equally I remain confident that we will come out from that meeting with that clear direction, the White Paper that will follow, and actually setting out a vision for our future with our EU partners.’ The Tory Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that US National Security Adviser John Bolton ‘spent more than an hour discussing Brexit with members of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs in London last week’.
Bolton reportedly used the meeting with the Eurosceptic Tories to stress Trump’s ‘enthusiasm for Brexit and his belief that the US and UK can agree a trade deal two years after Britain leaves the European Union’.