Brexit: Dominic Raab to update MPs amid Chequers criticism

Brexit: Dominic Raab to update MPs amid Chequers criticism
Brexit: Dominic Raab to update MPs amid Chequers criticism
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Image caption Dominic Raab became Brexit secretary when David Davis resigned over the Chequers deal

The Brexit secretary is due to face MPs with the government's plans under attack from both sides of the EU debate.

Dominic Raab will update the Commons on the latest developments in his negotiations with the EU.

EU negotiator Michel Barnier has said he is "strongly" opposed to parts of the UK plan agreed at Chequers in July.

And several Brexiteer Tory MPs have warned it stands no chance of being backed by Parliament.

But the government has described it as a "serious plan" and challenged critics to come up with alternative proposals.

No 10 said Mr Raab and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told fellow cabinet ministers the UK's Brexit plan had been met with a "warm and positive response" from EU member states over the summer.

The spokesman said the Government believed the Chequers plan - named after the prime minister's country residence where it was agreed - was the only "credible and negotiable" plan for the UK's future trading relationship with the EU on the table.

The UK will leave the EU on 29 March.

It includes a "common rulebook" for goods and treating the UK and the EU as a "combined customs territory" in an attempt to minimise red tape for businesses and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

But Brexiteer critics - including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson - say this will leave the UK too closely tied to the EU in years to come, and are campaigning for it to be "ditched".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, former Tory leader Lord Hague warned that disunity in the party could trigger a "terrible chain of events over the next seven months".

If there is no agreement that can win the backing of the House of Commons, the UK could face a choice of leaving with no deal or deferring Brexit and holding a new referendum, he said.

"Either of those outcomes could variously involve more serious economic consequences than anything seen so far, the fall of the Conservative government, a general election, and either the election of the dysfunctional Labour Party or another hung Parliament."

Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, who campaigned for Brexit, told BBC Breakfast that although she wanted the UK to be "completely untethered" to the EU, she was also a "pragmatist" and the Chequers plan was "the only serious one on the table".

'Complete non-starter'

Mr Barnier's objections to the plan were underlined during a meeting with the Brexit committee of UK MPs on Monday.

One of the committee, former Conservative minister John Whittingdale, said it had become clear in the meeting that the EU "just can't accept" the Chequers plan, because it thinks it goes against the principles of the single market.

Mr Whittingdale, who said he was personally "very unhappy" about the PM's plan, said Mr Barnier had instead been open to a free trade deal of "unprecedented closeness".

On the other side of the EU debate, former education secretary Justine Greening, who wants a referendum on the final EU deal, said the Chequers package was less popular than the poll tax.

Another MP, Heidi Allen, told the BBC's Newsnight some of her fellow pro-EU Conservatives viewed Chequers as a "complete non-starter" but others, like her, were prepared to give it a "little bit longer".

She said: "The only way any of us are going to come through this is with a little bit of compromise on both sides.

"Nobody is going to get exactly what they want but you have to start somewhere."

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