While Prime Minister Theresa May continues to stand by her Chequers proposals as the basis for the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union, it is becoming increasingly hard to see a way in which the controversial plan will become a political reality with opponents on all sides.
Former Brexit secretary David Davis has confirmed he would vote against the Chequers plan in any Commons vote and described its proposals for the UK to continue to follow EU rules in areas like manufactured goods and agri-foods while having no say over them as “actually almost worse than being in” the Union.
At the same time, former minister and high-profile Conservative MP Nick Boles, who backed Remain at the referendum, has come out against the Chequers deal, warning the UK faces “the humiliation of a deal dictated by Brussels”, which is treating the Chequers proposals as an “opening bid”.
Across the Channel, the European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is reported to have told a German newspaper he is “strongly opposed” to the Chequers plan as he fears it will lead to other countries attempting to cherry-pick which EU rules to follow.
Even supposed supporters of the Chequers plan, such as Liam Fox, are lukewarm, at best, in their backing. The International Trade Secretary told the BBC his preference for the proposal was largely based on his belief that “I can’t imagine many things worse than remaining in the EU” rather than putting forward much in the way of a positive case for the plan.
The Prime Minister is in an invidious position as she seeks to deliver Brexit in a way which causes the minimal economic damage and disruption. But with the UK’s scheduled departure now less than seven months away, it is becoming increasingly apparent her current plan has extremely limited changes of success.