Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has said that a Canada-style free trade agreement with the European Union is worse than a no deal. Her comments infuriated the Brexit-supporting Conservatives.
Talking at the start of a two-day trip to New York, the Prime Minister shot down a proposal that was supported by David Davis, her former Brexit Secretary, that the United Kingdom should negotiate a looser arrangement with the EU than what she was hoping for.
The plan was published by the Institute of Economic Affairs last Monday. It would mean that the United Kingdom would have to carry out some customs checks on goods from the EU, even though it suggests that this would be done away from the Irish border in order to avoid the requirement for physical infrastructure.
One Conservative said that it was “perverse” how PM May was clinging on to her own vision for Brexit, despite the bloc already rejecting it following a summit in Salzburg last week.
When asked by some reporters who were travelling alongside her on a trip to the UN whether a no deal was better than a Canada-style agreement, May answered: “First of all I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal.
She aded: “I think a bad deal would be for example a deal that broke up the United Kingdom – we want to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom.”
She continued: “What we have put on the table is a good deal; it’s a deal which retains the union of the United Kingdom, our constitutional integrity.
May concluded: “It’s a deal that provides for no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, protects jobs and enables us to have a good trading relationship with Europe and also the rest of the world.”
Her criticism on a Canada-style deal, comes as a new survey reveals that it is twice as popular as her Brexit vision. Tory Brexiteers argue that it should include zero tariffs on goods and agricultural products.
The so-called Chequers proposal would see the the United Kingdom sign up to a ‘common rulebook’ on goods and agri-foods with Brussels According to a HuffPost/BMG poll, it has the support of only 14 percent of the public.
A Canada-style agreement was the preferred Brexit result for 28 percent, while leaving the bloc without a deal was the second most popular option, with 24 percent support. Staying in the EU had the support of 20 per cent.
Simon Clarke, a Conservative MP who is backing the IEA’s vision, believes that unless May changes her course, no deal is the likely to be the outcome of the discussions.
He stated: “The consequence of continuing to flog the dead horse that is Chequers is she’s arguing for a harder Brexit than the ERG.”
He added: “It’s a somewhat perverse place to be.”
A former Tory MP who served as an adviser to David Davis, Stewart Jackson, stated: “I worry about how out of touch the Prime Minister is and the terrible advice she is getting.”
He added: “Chequers will not pass and the window of opportunity to save her premiership and unite the Conservative party is closing.”