Published On: Sun, Dec 3rd, 2017

'NO DEAL' May in Brexit showdown as she faces down Tory EU revolt


Theresa May revoltGETTY

Theresa May is expected to face strong backlash should she concede more to the EU


A letter signed by senior Tory MPs and other Brexit supporters has told the Prime Minister that she must end the negotiations this month if the EU refuses to compromise.

The threat comes as Government sources have privately admitted that a “no deal” with the EU is now increasingly likely.

A briefing from ministers has gone out to pro-Brexit groups saying that it is now “50/50 at best” that the other leaders of governments in the EU will unanimously agree to move on to trade talks in December.

After negotiators met over the weekend, Theresa May and David Davis are holding a series of crunch talks tomorrow in Brussels with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, chief negotiator Michel Barnier and European Council President Donald Tusk.

But Whitehall sources have said that optimism felt last week over reaching a deal has “decreased” after a weekend of talks.

Theresa May and David DavisGETTY

Theresa May and David Davis will hold crunch talks tomorrow with Jean Claude Juncker

The growing pessimism has come over the Irish government pushing for Northern Ireland to be separated from the rest of the UK to solve its border problems and despite reports that Mrs May has said she is willing to pay up to £50 billion in a divorce bill.

If the talks fail then Mrs May is under huge pressure to quit the negotiations and prepare for World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which experts believe will benefit the UK economy by £135 billion a year but harm the EU.

The Government unveiled a £3 billion Brexit war chest in the Budget last month to get the UK ready for no deal.

And any possibility of the Prime Minister considering further concessions has been dealt a blow with a Survation poll revealing that voters are angry over a divorce bill with one in three saying the UK should pay the EU nothing and two thirds saying it should be below £50 billion.

Meanwhile a warning letter organised by Leave Means Leave has underlined that Mrs May could be blocked from doling out more concessions by her own Tory backbenchers.

The Brexit campaign group, which is backed by more than 50 Tory parliamentarians, has set seven red lines in the talks making it clear Mrs May cannot add to the growing list of compromises she has made in the face of intransigence from the EU.

It also insists that “not a penny should be paid” to the EU in a divorce bill unless Britain gets a free trade deal with no tariffs in exchange.

It notes that Mrs May has “shown immense patience and goodwill” in the talks making a generous offer in her Florence speech that the UK would still provide security for Europe and the UK would stump up the rest of its contributions to the current EU budget cycle worth an estimated £28 billion net.

But the letter said that the EU has “acted in a manner sadly unbecoming of an international body”, making demands for “vast sums of money” but refusing to set out what it will give in return.

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Theresa May could be blocked from making further concessions by her own backbenchers

The letter concludes that if the EU refuses to agree to start trade talks by the end of the December summit in two weeks time then “the UK – having exhausted every avenue – should suspend its participation in the negotiations and inform the EU that, unless they are prepared to talk to us seriously about a future free trade arrangement, we will revert to World Trade Organisation terms from 30 March 2019”.

The signatories of the letter include former Tory cabinet ministers Lord Lawson, Owen Paterson and John Redwood MP along with senior Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is being touted as a possible future leader.

Meanwhile, Sir Richard Aikens, a former Court of Appeal judge who chairs Lawyers for Britain, said an agreement to allow the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to have jurisdiction in Britain would be “tantamount to reversing the result of the 2016 referendum”.

His comments were echoed by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith in a piece published over the weekend.

He warned the plan to give the ECJ some jurisdiction would be “quite unacceptable” as it would put the UK in the position of “ceding power to a foreign court”.

EU trade talksGETTY

The letter stipulates that if the EU refuses to begin trade talks by December the UK should withdraw

Mrs May is due to hold a meeting with Mr Juncker on Monday morning at the same time as Mr Davis meets Mr Barnier.

The four will then convene for lunch before Mrs May carries on the crucial talks with Mr Tusk.

The Government is denying that it has offered up to £50 billion as a divorce bill and insisted that nothing can be agreed until the whole package is agreed including trade.

Tonight a senior government source said that Irish demands to effectively cut off Northern Ireland from the rest of the US are “unacceptable.”

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney yesterday denied that his government is trying to unite Ireland through the back door.

Tonight in a bid to stop a revolt health secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed there will be no Brexit unless MPs get behind the Prime Minister.

He said: “The choice we face now is not between this Brexit and that Brexit; if we don’t back Theresa May we will have no Brexit – and she is doing an unbelievably challenging job amazingly well.”

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