David Jones MP tells B4B why the Conservative Party will reject Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit Plan
The Rt Hon David Jones the Conservative MP for Clwyd West, and a former government minister in the department for exiting the EU (DExEU), who also headed the Vote Leave Campaign in Wales in the 2016 Referendum tells B4B why he thinks Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit Plan is now dead in the water.
Speaking just after two senior cabinet ministers resigned from the government, Boris Johnson and David Davis, along with three junior ministers and two vice-chairs of the Conservative Party, David Jones MP said he thought the balance of power on Brexit had now moved outside the Cabinet to the parliamentary and wider Conservative party. He also speculated that by the time Parliament came back from its summer break to reconvene in the Autumn it was entirely possible that the UK would be heading for a No Deal Brexit, and eventually one similar to a Canada-style Free Trade agreement.
Jones first explains why he had earlier supported Theresa May’s Lancaster House and Mansion House speeches but could not support the Chequers Brexit Plan: “What we saw after the Chequers meeting was the UK signing up to what was called the Common rulebook which in fact is actually the EU rulebook. It does look like the Single Market is in part going to be preserved. We saw a very strange thing called a facilitated customs arrangement which referred to an ideal operation being like a combined customs territory which again sounds an awful lot like a Customs Union. And finally we saw an arbitration arrangement that ultimately would go at least in part for determination to the European Court of Justice, which will be a foreign court in which there will be no British judges. So I don’t believe therefore that when you take the PMs own tests as set out in the two earlier speeches (Lancaster House and Mansion House) what we saw at Chequers pass those tests.”
Jones goes on to explain the impact that the Chequers Plan is likely to have on the wider Conservative Party in and outside Parliament: “I think that it is very unlikely that there will be anything that represents the settled will of the Conservative Parliamentary Party that is developed by the time of our return in October. I think there will be a lot of discussions over the summer recess. I think that the positions will be adapted and developed. I think that you can expect to see a lot of papers being produced by the pro-Brexit factions within the Conservative Party, which will have a considerable amount of intellectual weight and they will add to the debate, but I don’t think by October this will be settled. By that stage we will be some only five months away from our departure date. I do think that now a WTO style departure is the most likely, we have to prepare for that, the government has to do that for the good of the country and I am delighted to see that indeed it is doing that and that was the most beneficial and positive element of Chequers.
“Let’s understand DExEU has now been hollowed out and marginalised. The centre of gravity now within government as far as BREXIT is concerned is in No 10 Downing Street. That was the consequence of the departure some time ago of Olly Robins to No 10 and now of course David Davis. The government has to get its negotiating position clearer. Chequers is looking very much as if it is now unravelling. It will be interesting to see what the White Paper has to say but I think it is very unlikely that the mood within the parliamentary party is going to change. The government now has got to go back to the drawing board, it has got to reflect on what Brexit actually means. It has to reflect on the issues of the three red lines (leave SM; leave CU; leave ECJ), which I believe most Conservative MPs want to see reinstated and it has got to come up with a position which accommodates that. Until such time as it does that, any negotiations it has with Barnier are not likely to be approved here at Westminster. I think therefore that clarity is needed now at an early stage rather than reacting later on to a rebuff by Barnier and a similar rebuff by the Parliamentary party.
“We have to keep faith with the electorate. We have to come up with something that honours the referendum, that doesn’t look as if it is a fudge or a slight of hand that is designed to give an impression of Brexit because that is how I believe people in the wider country feel. We have to give them something that does convince them that we are leaving the EU in every sense. All this would be very positive. We would be creating a country that could make its way in the World that would be free to strike trade deals around the World that would be in charge of its own boarders and give self-confidence to a country that at the moment is being told by many in positions of power that it hasn’t the strength to operate independently in the modern World, that it lacks confidence. This is not the UK that most people see and I think that what we should do is try to capture the confidence that Gareth Southgate has created for the England Football team, and I speak as a Welshman, and translate that into an our approach we can adopt to the EU. We are a great Country, we are a great economy and we have great people. I believe that we have a great future provided we have the confidence to stand on our own two feet. “Download This Podcast