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Sun 15 Jul 2018 11:51 AM

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Current Brexit deal only option, says Theresa May

The blueprint, which calls for a new UK-EU 'free trade area,' with interlinked customs regimes, prompted the resignations of Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and May's chief Brexit negotiator David Davis

Current Brexit deal only option, says Theresa May
Theresa May has been trying to tamp down rebellions within the Conservative Party over her Brexit plan, as it lays out a closer relationship to the EU single market than many pro-Brexit campaigners hoped

Prime Minister Theresa May defended her plan for leaving the European Union as the only viable option, and called on voters and lawmakers to get behind it or “risk ending up with no Brexit at all.”

“I am not going to Brussels to compromise our national interest,” May wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

“I am going to fight for it. I am going to fight for our Brexit deal -- because it is the right deal for Britain.”

May faces tricky votes in the House of Commons this week that Eurosceptics in her Conservative Party plan as a test of opposition to her policy for leaving the EU, which lays out a closer relationship to the bloc’s single market that many had hoped for.

Boris Johnson, the former foreign minister, and David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, resigned over her proposal, fuelling speculation of a possible leadership challenge.

“This jeopardises the opportunities offered by Brexit,” Davis wrote in the Financial Times on Sunday. “The chance to become a credible trading partner will be compromised and we will be unable to strike free-trade deals.”

Interlinked regimes

May’s Brexit blueprint calls for a new UK-EU “free trade area” with interlinked customs regimes, but critics say it would prevent Britain from signing trade deals with other non-EU countries - a key attraction for Brexiters.

US President Donald Trump echoed that argument last week, saying a soft Brexit would “kill” any hope of a U.S.-UK free-trade deal.

But in a joint press conference on Friday, the president rolled back criticism of May’s leadership he made in an interview published by the Sun newspaper, and told reporters a trade deal was still on the cards. May grasped that opening in her newspaper op-ed.

“As President Trump has said, I’m a tough negotiator,” she wrote.

In the letter, May warned parliamentarians seeking to scuttle the plan - and also those trying to force amendments to strengthen post-Brexit EU ties - that they risk causing “a damaging and disorderly Brexit.”

“We can get a good deal and that is what is best for Britain,” said wrote. “But we should also prepare for no deal. Not to do so would be grossly irresponsible. So I urge Parliamentarians on all sides to consider this when they are voting.”

May said her proposal is the only way to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland after Brexit, while also protecting supply chains and the jobs that depend on them.

“I am yet to see a workable alternative future trading arrangement that would deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland, preserve the constitutional integrity of the UK and deliver on the result of the referendum,” she wrote.

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