We need Plan B, claims Rudd as Com­mons de­feat looms for May

The Sunday Telegraph - - Countdown To Brexit - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF POLITICAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.”

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