EU offers UK Canada +++ Brexit deal
Brexiteers hail breakthrough as European Parliament president calls for ‘respect’
Brexiteers have jumped on the EU’s offer of a “Canada +++” free trade deal for the UK once it quits the bloc, piling more pressure on Theresa May to ditch her compromise Chequers deal.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that such an arrangement would be “much further reaching on trade, internal security and foreign policy cooperation”.
The Canada +++ deal was the favoured option of former Brexit secretary Davis Davis “and essentially what Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary, is demanding (although Johnson calls it Super Canada)” says The Guardian.
However, in a sign of the febrile state of negotiations, Tusk, the former Polish prime minister, said the UK would have to show more respect to Brussels to get any deal. It follows comments by the UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, comparing the EU to the Soviet Union.
The Daily Telegraph says Tusk’s remarks were “welcomed by leading Brexiteer MPs who back a looser ‘Canada plus’ free trade deal with the EU over the closer Chequers vision championed by Mrs May”.
As City A.M. says, Tusk has “delighted” the “chuck Chequers” faction - but The Daily Telegraph’s James Rothwell is among those sounding a note of caution:
Steve Baker, who quit his role as Brexit minister this summer over the Chequers deal, said he was “deeply encouraged” by Tusk’s comments, while leading backbench Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg described it as “excellent news”.
“This would unite the Conservative Party, be a good deal for the country, deliver on Brexit and it is really difficult to see why the Government is not embracing this,” Rees-Mogg said.
He added that a Canada +++ deal would mean “the challenge for the Government is solely solving the Irish border question – which is a political issue”.
Fellow Tory MP Crispin Blunt was even more optimistic, declaring: “If this offer is for the UK, job’s done!”
However, Ireland remains a major remaining stumbling block. The deal put forward by Tusk would see Northern Ireland stay in the EU’s customs union and single market in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic - something May’s parliamentary partners the DUP have categorically ruled out, notes Politico correspondent Tom McTague.
The prime minister says she is opposed to such a deal precisely because it would require a customs border in the Irish Sea, and would lead to the break-up of the UK as we know it because Northern Ireland would have to be treated differently to the rest of the UK.
Downing Street has yet to respond to Tusk’s latest remarks, “although they are likely to be viewed as unhelpful in the wake of the PM’s call for unity at the Tory conference”, says Sky News.