UK’s Ruling Party Will Split on May’s Chequers Plan on Brexit, Ex Minister Warns

UK’s Ruling Party Will Split on May’s Chequers Plan on Brexit, Ex Minister Warns

The UK’s ruling Conservative Party faces a “catastrophic split” over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Chequers Plan for Brexit, former Brexit minister Steve Baker has warned.

According to Baker, up to 80 Tory (Conservative) Members of the British Parliament (out of a total of 316 Tories in the House of Commons) will vote against May’s Brexit blueprint, the White Paper also kown as the Chequers plan, BBC News reports.

He said the Conservative Party should try to unite around another Brexit plan that would provide for greater flexibility if it did not want to be split over Chequers.

UK leader May recently promised to make no compromises with her blueprint for Brexit even as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier had in essence dismissed some of its key provisions early on. Barnier has reiterated his rejection of key aspects of the Chequers plan.

Baker, the former chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG), which plans to publish its own proposals for Brexit ahead of next month’s Conservative Party conference, said disagreement over May’s plan had created a “massive problem” among the Tory ranks.

He warned the Cabinet against pushing a vote on the Chequers deal in the House of Commons.

“[The Conservative Party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” he stated.

“It is absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to me to acknowledge that, but I look at the mood of colleagues and the mood of the Conservative Party in the country and I am gravely concerned for the future of our party,” Baker added.

In his words, intra-party opposition to Chequers is so widespread that some MPs who backed remaining in the EU would prefer the UK to leave without a deal than sign up to the current proposal.

Baker insisted that May, whose Chequers plan involves the UK accepting a common rule book with the EU for trade in goods, should instead back a free trade deal similar to CETA, Canada’s free trade agreement with the EU.

“We want to change the policy and we would be delighted to unite behind Theresa May with a different policy. “The Conservative Party must come together to deliver Brexit behind a policy and the policy we are arguing for is the one the EU has offered us in March,” said Baker who served Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Brexit in 2017 – 2018.

While intra-Tory criticism of May’s plan sees it as giving in too much to the EU, the EU on the other hand dislikes because it provides for Britain staying in the European single market on goods, but not on services.

EU Brexit negotiator Barnier has thus been stating the UK could not be allowed to “pick the raisins out”of the European single market.

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