Brexit deal ‘almost within touching distance’ says Theresa May’s deputy

Frederick Owens
November 13, 2018

In a scathing resignation letter he said that the Prime Minister was presenting the country with "two deeply unattractive outcomes - vassalage and chaos".

May addressed City of London leaders on Monday, saying her negotiators were working "through the night" to make progress on the remaining issues.

And another Brexiteer former cabinet minister, John Whittingdale, said it was hard to see how Mrs May's premiership could continue if MPs rejected any Brexit deal she brought back to Parliament.

Former transport minister Jo Johnson said he made a decision to quit Mrs May's Government because he was concerned at reports she was planning a publicity campaign which he said amounted to a "calculated deceit".

"No one is fooled by this theatre".

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening weighed in on Sunday, backing Johnson's move and reiterating her call for another plebiscite.

An influential and vocal section of May's ruling Conservative Party supports having no deal with the European Union if a deal means sharing elements of sovereignty, such as control over trade deals, tariffs and borders.

"The essence of the idea - that the United Kingdom should remain in the customs union and the single market for goods and agri-food - is what the backstop entails". May had ignored the concerns of the people of Northern Ireland, the majority of whom did not vote for Brexit.

Asked if the United Kingdom could be trapped in a backstop against its will, Lidington said: "The prime minister has said again and again, if the backstop were ever to be used - we don't want it to be used - is that it's clearly got to be something that would be temporary and not indefinite". This was always going to be an extremely hard, extremely complex negotiation, but we are nearly within touching distance now. "It has got to be one that works in terms of feeling we can deliver on the referendum result and that is why there is a measure of caution".

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"With Brexiteers and Remainers increasingly opposed to the plans being worked upon by May the chances of Parliamentary approval seem to be diminishing by the day, risking a political crisis", said Jeremy Stretch, head of Group-of-10 currency strategy at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

He added however: "There does come a point at which contingency plans have to be stepped up simply so that in that eventuality, the preparations have been done".

Earlier, Ms Mordaunt told Sky News: "The important thing is that there are two checks on this deal - there is Cabinet and there is Parliament".

But Labour's Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer again pushed back against the idea on Sunday, saying there's no obligation for members of Parliament to surrender to a bad deal out of fear of crashing out of the European Union without one.

Mrs May faces continuing unrest among Brexiteer ministers who fear she is preparing to give too much ground to Brussels in her efforts to get an agreement.

Jesse Norman has been promoted to replace Jo Johnson in the Department for Transport, Downing Street said.

May's preferred plan for future relations with the European Union after Brexit were agreed at Chequers - the prime minister's country retreat - in July, in a marathon cabinet meeting lasting almost 12 hours.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May takes part in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the World War I at the WWI French-British memorial of Thiepval, northern France, on 9 November 2018.

"We should be planning as to how we can put this final say on Brexit in the hands of the British people", she told BBC Radio 4's Today.

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