“Colleagues will not tolerate a half-in, half-out Brexit,” said Steve Baker, a former junior minister under Prime Minister Theresa May’s government who resigned in July in protest to the premier’s Brexit strategy.
Baker reiterated a position adopted by rebellious Tories that May’s withdrawal plan, if succeeded to generate a deal with the EU, would make Britain more dependent on the bloc in future, Presstv Reported.
The lawmaker is among many in May’s own Tory party who have accused the premier of being too lenient in talks with the EU. They have indicated that the number of Conservative lawmakers that could reject a final Brexit deal by May could even exceed 80.
May, who is fighting for her Brexit proposals ahead of a key EU summit in Brussels next week, also faces stiff opposition from the Labour Party, which has said that it would almost dismiss the withdrawal agreement under any circumstances.
If May fails to go through the House of Commons with her Brexit deal, she should either resign to allow another Tory politician to lead the government into new Brexit talks, or face the prospect of an early general election, which could see the Labour rise to power.
May’s spokesman said Monday that London was in the midst of some tough talks with the EU ahead of the bloc’s October 17-18 summit. The official indicated that the two sides had hit new snags in the talks, despite expressions of hope made last week showing that there could come an initial Brexit agreement in Brussels.
The future trade relations and the situation of the Irish border are still the two stumbling blocks in Brexit negotiations. Britain wants the EU to first set out its vision of future bilateral trade and then discuss a final solution on the future state of the border between EU member Ireland and the UK province of Northern Ireland.
The EU, however, insists London should first decide on the Irish border and then move on the talks to trade discussions.
The EU’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who was expected to brief the EU’s executive body on the state of talks later on Wednesday, came out of a meeting with the leader of Northern Ireland’s dominant political party earlier in the day suggesting that the EU and Britain could still de-dramatize the Irish border issue.
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster, whose party props up May’s coalition government, reiterated after talks with Barnier that she and the UK government would never accept any border between the region and mainland Britain as a solution to avoid a hard border between the two Irelands.
“There is only one red line,” Foster told reporters in Brussels, adding, “We could not support any arrangement which could give rise to either customs or regulatory barriers within the UK internal market.”
Foster said, however, that she was optimistic about a Brexit deal in the coming weeks if there was enough political will on the two sides.
“I very much hope that there is a deal in a number of weeks,” she told the BBC, adding, “I want to see a deal that works for everyone and I think that is eminently possible if the political will is there to make it happen.”
May has resisted the EU’s offer for including Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union after the Brexit date, which is March 29, 2019, as a backstop solution to avoid a hard Irish border. The British premier says moving the frontier to the Irish Sea would mean a separation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. She has instead offered the EU the possibility to have the entire UK in the customs union for the two-year transitional period after Brexit and even beyond that until a solution is found for a free trade mechanism between the two sides.
Many fear a failure of Brexit talks would force Britain toward a no-deal situation where the country crashes out of the bloc leaving many issues unregulated. Both the EU and Britain are highly fearful of the scenario as it could deeply harm their economies.
A German institute said on Tuesday that a “hard” Brexit would mean more than 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of extra tariffs for German companies each year, saying Germany, the dominant economic power in the EU, would see its experts to the UK more than halved after a no-deal Brexit.