Published On: Sun, Feb 11th, 2018

May FIGHTS BACK: PM unveils her ‘Road Map for Brexit’ in bid to quell Eurosceptic uprising


Theresa May roadmap to BrexitGETTY

With an aim to make the UK a ‘truly global’ nation, Mrs May will reveal her main Brexit strategy


Pledging to make the UK a “truly global, free-trading nation”, the Prime Minister will spearhead a series of keynote speeches in the coming weeks to underline her positive vision for a post-Brexit Britain.

The fightback comes as around 100 Eurosceptic Tory MPs, led by “Brexiteer-in-chief” Jacob Rees-Mogg, are preparing to step up the pressure on Mrs May to honour the 12-point plan she laid out in her original landmark Lancaster House speech on Brexit.

The group is understood to be in talks over sending Mrs May a letter calling for Britain to break all ties with Brussels once we leave on March 29, 2019.

It comes after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier last week warned there will be no transition at all unless we bow to Brussels rules during the two-year implementation period. His outburst infuriated Downing Street, with one Cabinet minister calling them “the usual intimidation tactics the EU Commission is famous for”.

A member of the influential European Research Group said: “The greater noise being made by the Eurosceptics is bringing the Government back on track. The wind is blowing back in the direction of the Brexiteers but we’ve got to keep the pressure up and not let Mr Barnier get away with his unreasonable demands.”

Theresa May keynoteGETTY

Theresa May is set to outline her positive view for Brexit in coming speeches


We will be forging an ambitious new partnership with Europe and charting our own way in the world to become a truly global, free-trading nation

Downing Street source

After weeks of Cabinet squabbles over the UK’s preferred “end state”, five key ministers are lined up to throw their weight behind Mrs May in a coordinated series of speeches laying out the way ahead.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will kick off the offensive on Wednesday with a rallying call to those on both sides of the Brexit debate to back the Prime Minister.

Called Road to Brexit: A United Kingdom, his speech is expected to be a “gentler and more consensual” version of the bombastic 4,000-word Brexit essay which overshadowed Mrs May’s Florence address last September.

Mrs May will then address the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, detailing the new security relationship Britain will seek with the EU after leaving the bloc.

Over the following week there will be three more speeches by Brexit Secretary David Davis, de factor deputy prime minister David Lidington, and International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

A Downing Street source said: “Brexit is a defining moment in the history of our nation. We will be forging an ambitious new partnership with Europe and charting our own way in the world to become a truly global, free-trading nation.

“As we move along the road to that future, we will set out more detail so people can see how this new relationship will benefit communities in every part of our country.”

Mr Davis will outline how Britain’s businesses will maintain their reputation for high standards across the world, while Mr Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, will talk about devolution.

Dr Fox will detail how Britain will forge new trade deals across the world, in a swipe at Remainers who have been lobbying to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union.

Chancellor Philip Hammond was accused of contradicting Government policy last month when he refused to rule out the UK leaving the union – even though Downing Street has been “unequivocal” on the issue.

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The news comes as Jacob Rees Mogg and his backers get set to pile pressure on to Mrs May

It is telling that Mr Hammond has not been asked to make a speech at such a critical stage in the Brexit negotiations.

After Mrs May secured a phase one agreement before Christmas, the second stage of the talks aims to thrash out the details of a future trade deal between the UK and the EU, as well as agree the transition arrangements for the two-year implementation period.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, a Brexit “war cabinet” consisting of 10 key ministers failed to come to an agreement on the kind of future relationship Britain is seeking with Brussels. 

Brexiteers Mr Johnson, Mr Davis and Dr Fox are all seeking divergence from the bloc while Remainers Mr Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Business Secretary Greg Clark want the UK to remain as closely aligned as possible with our European neighbours.

Downing Street last night confirmed reports that Mrs May will send her cabinet on an “away day” to Chequers to try to reach a consensus.

It comes after Mr Davis last week accused Mr Barnier of being “discourteous” after a leaked EU paper suggested Britain should have its access to the single market blocked in the event of a dispute during the transition phase.

He also sparked anger over his warning that checks would be “unavoidable” at the Northern Irish border once we leave, despite having previously been accused of trying to “weaponise” the peace process.

Mr Davis described the draft section of the withdrawal agreement that leaked out on Wednesday as “hardly a legal document, it was a political document”, adding: “What we’re about is building an implementation period which is to build a bridge to a future where we work well together.

“I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.

David DavisGETTY

David Davis inspired fury after saying checks at the Northern Ireland border would be ‘unavoidable’

“That’s not what the aim of this exercise is.”

The implementation period is expected to begin straight after Brexit Day next March and end on December 31, 2020.

The UK says this will allow businesses to adapt to its new relationship with the EU.

The EU says its rules should still apply during the entire period, as will rulings of the European Court of Justice – something Brexiteers are calling on the Government to resist, fearing the UK will have to be subject to Brussels diktats for two years without having any say over them.

Mr Rees-Mogg has said such an agreement would turn Britain into a “vassal state” and amount to “Brino” (Brexit In Name Only), which is not what 17.4 million Leavers voted for.

A You Gov poll last week found that such a “soft Brexit” was popular with only eight per cent of the population, with 43 per cent preferring to go “full speed ahead” with Brexit.

Eurosceptics argue that if the EU cannot reach agreement with the UK over the implementation period or a trade deal then we must withdraw our offer of paying £39billion into Brussels coffers.

Mrs May has always insisted that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and is standing by her assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

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