Tory minister trashes Brexit compromise plan talked up by Theresa May

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A Tory minister has circulated a memo trashing the Tory peace plan talked up by Theresa May as one of her options to renegotiate the backstop with the EU.

The document, which has been obtained by Sky News, directly criticises the so-called “Malthouse compromise” that came to light on Monday night.

It is designed to unite the Remainer and Brexiteer wings of the Conservative Party, and has been backed by MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nicky Morgan.

Mrs May declared she was “engaging positively” with the plan at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday as a way of changing the backstop that is proving so unpopular in parliament.

That is an arrangement to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland should such a scenario not be averted by a future UK-EU trade relationship.

Mrs May backed an amendment to her Brexit plan that calls for the backstop to be scrapped and replaced with “alternative arrangements”.

When challenged by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn what her new ideas were, she mentioned the proposal put forward by housing minister Kit Malthouse, Mr Rees-Mogg and Ms Morgan.

But the damning new document compiled by business minister Richard Harrington said the plan “does not deliver an open border in Ireland”.

“This idea was considered and rejected by both the UK and the EU in summer 2018, as both parties concluded that it would not maintain an open border,” it says.

“That is why we ended up with the current backstop.”

It also claims the plan “does not deliver alignment” in all the areas needed of an open border – citing goods standards, VAT rules, food and animal health measures and other regulations needed to eliminate border checks.

The compromise, talked up by the pro-Brexit lobby known as the European Research Group, involves a plan B version of no deal.

That includes an offer for extending the transition period until the end of 2021, with more money paid and use of World Trade Organisation (WTO) arrangements for zero-tariff free trade for 10 years known as “Article 24”.

The memo says “there is no such thing as a managed no-deal” and that “Article 24 does not provide an acceptable basis for our trading relationship”.

It points out that it would require the EU to sign up.

And that the 10-year period “is based on a misinterpretation of an obscure provision in the GATT treaty [which underpins WTO rules] dating back to 1947 which has not been used for at least the last 25 years”.

(c) Sky News 2019: Tory minister trashes Brexit compromise plan talked up by Theresa May

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