Tory Euroscep­tics Che­quers chuck­ers

The Observer - - Focus -

As the prime min­is­ter tries to per­suade the EU to ac­cept some ver­sion of her “soft Brexit” Che­quers plan, which in­cludes ob­serv­ing a “com­mon rule­book” with the EU for goods and a “fa­cil­i­tated cus­toms ar­range­ment”, the hard-Brexit Tory right are step­ping up ef­forts to kill off Che­quers al­to­gether.

The Eu­ro­pean Re­search Group (ERG) led by Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, above, in­structs its sup­port­ers to cam­paign to “chuck Che­quers”. The dis­loy­alty of the 21st-cen­tury Euroscep­tics to­wards their own leader is worse, ac­cord­ing to the for­mer prime min­is­ter John Ma­jor, than that of cabi­net rebels he branded “bas­tards” dur­ing Tory bat­tles over Maas­tricht in the 1990s.

The for­mer Brexit min­is­ter Steve Baker, a lead­ing Euroscep­tic, says more than 40 Con­ser­va­tive MPs would be pre­pared to vote against the prime min­is­ter if she and the EU agree to a deal even re­motely sim­i­lar to the Che­quers pro­posal.

The ERG wants the UK to strike a Canada-style free-trade deal with the EU, which would al­low for tar­iff­free trade on a large range of goods, but it could take years to ne­go­ti­ate. It would also not elim­i­nate the need for bor­der checks, and would not solve the Ir­ish bor­der prob­lem. As a re­sult many MPs say it would en­dan­ger peace in North­ern Ire­land.

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