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1ST LEAD Conservative rebel wants new leader if May persists with Brexit plan By Bill Smith, dpa

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
London (dpa) - A eurosceptic lawmaker in Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Conservatives on Friday urged the party to elect a new leader if she persists with her Brexit plan, calling it an "ultimate betrayal" of Britain‘s vote to leave the European Union.

Andrea Jenkyns‘s call follows reported dissent by several senior cabinet members late on Thursday, when May told her ministers that "a historic Brexit deal is close."

The eurosceptics are angry that May appears ready to accept a Brexit "backstop" to keep Britain in a "temporary" but potentially indefinite customs union with the EU.

But a Downing Street spokeswoman told reporters on Friday that May stands by her plan and "would never agree to a deal which would trap the UK in a backstop permanently."

May wants an agreement on future trade relations "to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest," meaning the backstop would not be needed, the spokeswoman said.

Many critics are not convinced by such assurances.

The BBC named five senior ministers said to be concerned by May‘s plan.

Northern Ireland‘s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose 10 lawmakers support May‘s minority government in parliament, has also raised the pressure for a shift in her "Chequers" blueprint for Brexit, ahead of a crucial summit of EU leaders next week.

"If the PM and government continue to push for the UK to remain in the customs union ‘partnership,‘ then we need a new leader," Jenkyns tweeted.

"The 48 letters must go in," she said, referring to the Conservatives‘ influential 1922 Committee, which must organize a leadership contest if at least 48 lawmakers request one.

"This is an ultimate betrayal of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave," the member of parliament said, adding the hashtag #ChuckChequers.

DUP lawmaker Sammy Wilson told Sky News on Friday that his party could "pull the government back into keeping its promises" by voting against May‘s budget in parliament later this month.

"That may lead to a different leader," Wilson told the broadcaster.

Steve Baker, a leading member of the Conservatives‘ European Research Group of some 80 eurosceptic lawmakers, said that if Britain agreed to a backstop "beyond an essential FTA [free-trade agreement] then it is effectively committing the UK to membership of the single market and customs union."

"That won‘t wash. The British people voted to take back control over money, laws borders and trade," Baker tweeted.

Another Conservative lawmaker, Mark Pritchard, tweeted that there are "many MPs who still believe Brexit means not being in a customs union - even a temporary one."

May has proposed a temporary, last-resort "backstop" to maintain free movement of goods and people across the Irish border once Britain leaves the EU in March.

If no other solution can be found, the backstop would apply following a 21-month transitional period to keep an open border between the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member, and Northern Ireland, which will leave the bloc with the rest of the United Kingdom.


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