We need Plan B, claims Rudd as Commons defeat looms for May
A NORWAY-STYLE arrangement is a “plausible” alternative to the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, Amber Rudd said yesterday, as she warned Tories not to oust Theresa May.
The Work and Pensions Secretary became the first Cabinet minister to discuss publicly the merits of a “Plan B” if Mrs May crashes to defeat in Tuesday’s crunch Commons vote.
It comes after Ms Rudd confronted Mrs May at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, pleading with the PM to come up with an alternative.
She said: “If it doesn’t get through, anything could happen – People’s Vote, Norway-plus, any of these options could come forward and none of them are as good as the current arrangement we have got with the Withdrawal Agreement to vote on Tuesday.”
Ms Rudd is the latest senior Conservative to develop their own alternatives to Mrs May’s plan which looks set to be resoundingly defeated. Lord Howard of Lympne, the former Tory leader, said yesterday that discussions with the European Union should be intensified to prepare for Brexit without a full Withdrawal Agreement.
The peer, who as Michael Howard was leader from 2003 to 2005, said: “We should seek to put in place some ad hoc, temporary arrangements with the agreement of the European Union which would minimise and, indeed, perhaps even eliminate any disruption at the border on March 30 next year.”
Under Lord Howard’s plan, the UK would not apply tariffs to any goods which are traded between the EU and UK for a 12-month period starting on March 29.
Lord Howard said that he would “hope that they [the EU countries] will reciprocate but do it even if they don’t – and use that 12-month period to negotiate a free-trade agreement along the style of Canada-plus.”
Priti Patel, a former Cabinet minister, said she could not see how the Brexit deal would get through the Commons on Tuesday, adding “anything could happen”. The Tory MP for Witham said: “At the end of the day, any governing party has to make sure we are delivering exactly what we said we would.”