Tories preparing 'Plan C' for Brexit

PUBLISHED: 08:39 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 29 January 2019

Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A new Brexit plan which is reported to be backed by both Tory Brexiteers and Remainers has been put forward.

The plan - called the The Malthouse Compromise after Kit Malthouse who brought the parties together - would lead to Britain leaving the EU “on time and with a functioning government”, former Brexit minster Steve Baker has said.

The plan “provides for exit from the EU on time with a new backstop, which would be acceptable indefinitely, but which incentivises us all to reach a new future relationship”.

It would extend the transition period - the period where the UK would continue to follow EU rules and pay into its budget - from the end of 2020 and into December 2021 which would “allow both parties to prepare properly for WTO terms, but also provide a period in which the parties could obviate this outcome by negotiating a mutually beneficial future relationship”.

Former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan has confirmed talks have been taking place for “some days” between MPs from the Remain and Leave wings of the Tory Party to find a compromise way forward.

The discussions involved herself, health minister Stephen Hammond, and solicitor general Robert Buckland from one wing of the party, and Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker from the Brexiteer side.

She said their plan involved a “recasting” of the Northern Ireland backstop as “free trade agreement-lite” with a commitment on all sides there should be no hard border on the island of Ireland and an extended transition period to December 2021.

“The prime minister has been aware of the discussions. At some point there has to be compromise on all sides in order to get a deal over the line. That is what most of us want to see - a negotiated settlement with the EU,” Morgan told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“People like me want to avoid a no-deal outcome, a crashing out on March 29. We have to look for ways to do that. We are all prepared to compromise on that.”

Anna Soubry MP, leading supporter of People’s Vote, said that the proposal “only heightens the risk of a no-deal outcome”.

“The prospect of the EU ripping up the Withdrawal Agreement or allowing a transition period without the backstop is very remote - and for good reason given the risks to the Irish peace process.

“Instead, this scheme backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg is a recipe for the no deal Brexit that the hard Brexiters have always craved.

“We cannot allow our economy, vital public services and life chances of young people to be sacrificed for a last minute gesture towards Conservative party unity. The guiding principle in this must be the national interest – country before party.

Political journalist Robert Peston said that a source for the EU27 had rubbished the plan.

He tweeted a quote which said: “Zero chance. Have just discussed over here. Viewed as both extraordinarily funny and tragic. No-one can understand how Nicky M and co would sign off on a proposition which leads so obviously to no-deal”.

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