Theresa May has came under fresh pressure from her own MPs and her allies in the DUP over her strategy for the next phase of Brexit talks on the UK’s future trade relationship with the EU.
Large parts of her own party remain unconvinced by her Chequers plan to effectively keep the UK in the EU customs union, ensuring free trade in goods by maintaining a ‘common rulebook’ that closely follows Brussels regulations.
Because of the failure to agree the UK’s divorce terms from the EU, the Prime Minister is expected to come away from negotiations with an outline of the future relationship by the end of the year.
MPs from different parties have warned that a vague political declaration will lead to a ‘blind Brexit’ that kicks meaningful trade talks into the transition period.
Just hours before she was due in Brussels to try convince EU leaders to compromise on the UK’s withdrawal deal, Brexiteers heaped further pressure on Mrs May at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Nigel Dodds, the Westminster leader of the DUP, told the Prime Minister that “it would be difficult for the House to be asked to confirm a legally binding withdrawal agreement without having clear assurances and some precision about the details of the future trading relationship”.
The Prime Minister assured him that there would be “sufficient detail about all aspects of the future relationship” in the package MPs are asked to vote on later this year.
Conservative MP John Baron welcomed an invitation from the Japanese government to join a Pacific free trade deal covering 11 countries, and sought assurances that this “will not be hindered by the common rulebook of the Chequers agreement”.
Mrs May insisted the UK “would be able to join... under the relationship proposed in the government’s plan”.