Theresa May today gave in to the demands of Tory Brexiteers by accepting all four of their amendments.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said May had “capitulated” to Brexiteers and that the proposals agreed at Chequers were now “dead in the water”. The PM however argued that this was “absolutely wrong”.
The proposals came from the European Research Group, a government pressure group campaigning for Brexit. The group is chaired by hardline Brexit supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg, and includes 70 Tory MPs.
The most crucial of the four amendments means HMRC could not collect duties or VAT on goods on behalf of the EU (unless there was a reciprocated agreement). The Brexiters believe this will kill off May’s customs plan because the EU will reject it.
The concession comes after Rees-Mogg held talks this morning with the party’s chief whip, Julian Smith.
Comment from Director of Communications, Henry Jones
The Brexit announced at Chequers was undoubtedly a softer Brexit than many Leave supporters want. May’s concession today moves the country towards a harder Brexit, although it is worth noting that some Leave supporters are not yet satisfied.
The move also shows the considerable power the ERG have over May; she would rather concede to them than risk a leadership challenge. She’s aware of her incredibly weak position, and of Labour climbing the polls in recent weeks.
It will be interesting to hear Boris Johnson’s view – since resigning as Foreign Secretary, he has resumed his column in The Daily Telegraph. Johnson may now regret his decision to resign.
In essence, the today’s news has been
- Good for leave supporters
- Bad for remainers
- Bad for Tory stability