Iain Duncan Smith last night urged Theresa May to abandon Brexit talks unless the EU agrees to back away from its ‘intolerable’ demands
Iain Duncan Smith last night urged Theresa May to abandon Brexit talks unless the EU agrees to back away from its ‘intolerable’ demands.
In an ominous move, the former Conservative leader went public about his growing concerns with the direction of the negotiations on a potential divorce deal.
Mr Duncan Smith said accepting the EU’s demands would leave the UK a ‘supplicant’ nation after Brexit.
He said he had told the PM: ‘We have reached the point where really these sets of demands are demands too far.’
He added that it was time to tell the EU: ‘We’re not prepared to go down this road any longer, this is not working, we will not box ourselves in.’
Mr Duncan Smith has acted as a bridge between No 10 and the Eurosceptic wing of the Tory Party, helping to persuade MPs to back Mrs May and avoid rocking the boat. His decision to speak out underlines the difficulty Mrs May now faces in persuading the Right of the party to back her approach to Brexit.
But last night Mr Duncan Smith said he could not accept plans to resolve the Irish border issue by signing up to a system of ‘regulatory alignment’ that could tie sectors of the whole UK economy to Brussels rules after Brexit.
He said it was ‘not just the DUP’ who were unhappy about a plan that would ‘give away our status before we even get to the trade arrangements’. He said agreeing to the demand from Dublin and Brussels would ‘box in’ the UK’s future options and limit our ability to negotiate future trade deals with other countries.
Mr Duncan Smith also voiced grave reservations about allowing any future role for the European Court of Justice, which Brussels is saying should continue to have jurisdiction over EU citizens’ rights in Britain.
He told the BBC: ‘We are beginning to stare at the edge of what is a price that we simply cannot afford to pay.’ Mr Duncan Smith said the EU ‘needs to budge’. He said the UK was ‘reaching the point fairly fast’ where it should just walk away and prepare to leave the EU without a trade deal.
He suggested no deal would be better than a ‘wholly intolerable one that leaves us boxed in and unable to make the kind of arrangements with the US, Australia, India and all these other countries that we want to make arrangements with’.
Mr Duncan Smith’s decision to speak out underlines the difficulty Mrs May now faces in persuading the Right of the party to back her approach to Brexit
And he warned there was a danger that ‘we will end up being supplicants in this process rather than being equal partners.’
He added: ‘I think the PM is recognising that. It’s just becoming very clear that no matter what we say that we will help them with, there is another demand placed there and that stands in the way of trade.’
Signalling the tensions fracturing the Tory Party, former education secretary Nicky Morgan last night rounded on Mr Duncan Smith, saying: ‘This is madness. Walking away when the Brexiteers encounter difficulties they never bothered to anticipate is not in the national interest.’