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Theresa May faces Eurosceptic revolt over new Brexit plan released TODAY

THERESA May is facing a Commons revolt by Eurosceptic Tory MPs next week in an angry backlash at her Brexit plans. Senior backbenchers last night tabled four amendments to a key Government bill to be debated in Parliament on Monday in an attempt to wreck the Prime Minister's plans for close customs links with the EU.

They signalled their defiance ahead of the release of a Whitehall "white paper" policy document today setting out full details of Mrs May's negotiation offer to Brussels for the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the bloc.

Senior MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the 60-strong European Research Group of Eurosceptics Tories, urged Mrs May to overhaul the plan - which was agreed by a special Cabinet meeting at her Chequers country residence last week - or face a rebellion in the Commons on Monday on crunch Brexit legislation.

"Unfortunately Chequers was a breakdown in trust.

"Brexit meant Brexit, but now it appears Brexit means remaining subject to European laws," Mr Rees-Mogg said.

"I believe this will help the Government stick to the promises it made.

"It may resolve the dilemma the Prime Minister faces. Does she rely on Labour votes to achieve Brexit or does she change her mind and go back to Lancaster House? Will she stick to her earlier words?"

Mrs May could be forced to rely on Labour votes to block the amendments to the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, which has been drafted to pave the way for new customs arrangements at the Northern Ireland border after Brexit.

One of the Eurosceptic amendments demands that the UK should scrap an offer - contained in the Chequers plan - to collect taxes and duties on behalf of the EU, unless the remaining 27 member states pledge to do the same for Britain.

A second amendment would force the Government to commit itself in law not to allow a customs border down the Irish Sea.

Tory Eurosceptics are expecting MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party, which supports Mrs May's minority Tory Government, to back the second amendment.

Other amendments would require the UK to have a separate VAT regime from the EU and force the Prime Minister to table primary legislation if she wishes to keep Britain in the customs union.

Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, another senior member of the European Research Group, insisted the amendments were not designed to undermine Mrs May's position but were about holding the Government to the Tory manifesto commitments to quit the EU's single market and customs union.

"For the record, the European Research Group is not expecting any further resignations, nor were we expecting any in the first place," said Mr Jenkin.

"Nor do we expect a leadership challenge. We are supporting Theresa for PM."

A Downing Street spokeswoman last night said ministers would examine the amendments and decide whether to oppose or accept them.

"We'll have to have a look at them when they are formally tabled," the spokeswoman said.

Mrs May's customs plan triggered the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, EU Exit Secretary David Davis and a string of other frontbenchers earlier this week.

Dominic Raab, the new EU Exit Secretary, last night promised that today's white paper will set out a blueprint for a "principled and practical Brexit" that respects the 2016 referendum vote to quit the EU.

Writing in the foreword to the document, Mr Raab promised "a comprehensive vision for the future relationship".

He wrote: "It is a vision that respects the result of the referendum, and delivers a principled and practical Brexit."

At the heart of the document is a plan for a "free trade area for goods" covering both the UK and the EU to ensure no hard border is needed between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Eurosceptic critics fear the proposal means Britain will be forced to keep a swathe for EU rules and regulations forever without any say in their formulation.

Mr Raab insisted the Brexit deal must "cater for the deeply integrated supply chains that criss-cross the UK and the EU, and which have developed over our 40 years of membership".

He wrote: "The plan outlined in this White Paper delivers this balance.

"It would take the UK out of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

"It would give the UK the flexibility we need to strike new trade deals around the world, in particular breaking new ground for agreements in services.

"It would maintain frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU through a new free trade area, responding to the needs of business.

"It would deliver on both sides’ commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland, avoiding a hard border without compromising the EU’s autonomy or the UK's sovereignty.

"This is the right approach - for both the UK and for the EU. The White Paper sets out in detail how it would work.

"Alongside this unprecedented economic partnership, we also want to build an unrivalled security partnership, and an unparalleled partnership on cross-cutting issues like data, and science and innovation.

"And to bolster this cooperation, we will need a new model of working together that allows the relationship to function smoothly on a day-to-day basis, and respond and adapt to new threats and global shifts while taking back control over our laws."

Some Eurosceptic Tories have warned that more resignations from the Government could follow if the Prime Minister refuses to change course.

Speaking at the Nato summit in Brussels, Mrs May insisted that her Chequers deal delivered on the "red lines" which she set out in her Lancaster House speech last year.

"It delivers on the vote that people gave on Brexit, it delivers the fact that we will have an end to free movement, we will have an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, we won't be sending vast contributions to the EU every year, we'll be out of the Common Agricultural Policy, out of the Common Fisheries Policy," she said.

"We deliver that Brexit and we do it in a way that protects jobs and livelihoods and meets our commitment to Northern Ireland."

Pro-Brexit International Trade Secretary Liam Fox yesterday faced a barrage of complaints from Tory MPs that the Chequers deal looked like a Cabinet "sell-out and capitulation" to the EU.

Dr Fox insisted it was designed to be a "credible offer" to Brussels, to allow negotiations to make progress and he warned EU leaders they could suffer at the ballot box from voters feeling the "pain" of a no-deal outcome.

But Tories quizzing him at a Commons committee hearing warned the plan was far off what the British people wanted.

Julia Lopez said the proposed "common rule book" for goods gave the EU more sway and would tempt it to introduce measures harmful to the UK.

"Do you not think it would be more honest to call it an EU rule book that the UK applies?" she asked.

Fellow Tory Nigel Evans added: "There's an assumption that there's now been a capitulation and a sell-out by the Cabinet to the EU.”

Dr Fox hit back: "If we are unable to get an agreement, then we will leave with no deal."

Source: Express

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