Prime Minister Theresa May is facing an open revolt from grassroots members of the Conservative Party over her Brexit plan.
A total of seven local chairmen of cabinet ministers Conservative Associations told The Sunday Telegraph they either did not support the plans in their current form or would withdraw support if further concessions were given to Brussels.
In an uncomfortable turn of events for the Prime Minister, the chairman of Mrs May’s Maidenhead Conservative association Richard Kellaway said: ‘If it were to be diluted, it would ultimately not be acceptable.’
The unhappiness among the grassroots members of the party could make for an uneasy homecoming for some Cabinet members.
Theresa May’s Brexit woes have followed her on holiday to Lake Garda, in Italy, where she is pictured today taking a leisurely stroll with her husband Philip
Theresa May (pictured today) will be hoping she can speed away from her Brexit problems while enjoying the weather at Lake Garda in Italy
Patricia Soby, the Tory chairman in the Devon constituency of Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, said: ‘This constituency conducted our own survey and practically everybody was against the Chequers deal.’
Meanwhile Environment Secretary Michael Gove was apparently accused of ‘beatrayal’ in his Surrey constituency after supporting Mrs May’s plan.
The warnings come after Michel Barnier has already blown a hole in Theresa May’s Chequers plan.
Central to the Prime Minister’s plan, set out in a white paper a fortnight ago, is a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ under which tariffs charged at the border would be passed on to either the British or EU authorities depending on the destination of imported goods.
Appearing alongside new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab following their second round of talks in Brussels, Michel Barnier left no doubt that this was not acceptable to the EU.
He said: ‘The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and and rules and VAT and excises duty collection to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU’s governance structures,’ he said.
At a summit designed to unify her party around the future relationship with the EU. the Prime Minister gathered cabinet members to try and agree a way forward in June.
Richard Kellawaythe chairman of Mrs May’s Maidenhead Conservative association Richard Kellaway said if Brexit plans were diluted further they would not be acceptable
Some of the key features of the plan being pushed by the government are a new free trade area based on a ‘common rulebook’- requiring the UK to commit to a treaty to match EU rules.
But this would not include banking or legal services, meaning the UK could set our own regulations.
Also a new ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ removing the need for customs checks at EU-UK ports.
It would allow differing UK and EU tariffs on goods from elsewhere in the world to be paid at the border.
And continued use of the EHIC health insurance card.
The details hammered out at Chequers became part of the government’s Brexit White Paper which was released to much criticism.
The plan upset senior Conservatives who favour a harder Brexit, leading to the resignation of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
New rules ending freedom of movement but allowing UK and EU citizens to travel freely without visas for tourism and temporary work.
David Davis,supposedly warned the Prime Minister about the position she was taking.
He said: : ‘On customs and on goods the paper is not in line with the Government’s core promises to take back control of its laws and to have an independent trade policy.’
He added: ‘The Government should be up front that this meant the harmonisation of legislation with the EU and being a rule taker for swathes of the economy.’
The levels of discomfort among grassroots members of the party is sure to alarm the Prime Minister and her team during the summer break.
Despite the concerns the Prime Minister seemed to be in good spirits on her week long walking holiday.
The Mays were spotted arriving at a luxury hotel on Lake Garda, the shores of which are home to a host of exclusive hotels.
The PM is well known for her love of walking holidays and last summer went to the Swiss alps.
Theresa May, who is well known for her stylish footwear, stepped out in £50 white canvas flats for the walk on the shore of the fashionable Lake Garda.
The photograph taken in Desenzano del Garda continued the less posed style she has adopted since being in Number 10, in contrast to images released by her predecessor David Cameron when he went away.
She paired her trainers with beige three-quarter length trousers, a white short-sleeved shirt and large square sunglasses for a low-key look as they took in the small resort town that the couple visited last year.
Philip walked beside her wearing dark blue trousers and loafers, with a short-sleeved blue checked shirt and smaller sunglasses.
The couple will spend around a week in Italy before she returns to work in her constituency and Downing Street.
Mrs May is also due to attend a First World War memorial event to mark the battle of Amiens, which began on August 8 1918 and helped to secure victory.
They will then jet off for two weeks in Switzerland. The holiday plans are a repeat of last year’s getaway for the couple.
But in slightly more positive news for Mrs May and just prior to her holiday, she managed to secure the agreement of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz who said that Brexit should be discussed by EU leaders at an informal meeting in Salzburg on September 20.
It means that the Prime Minister has an extra gathering of leaders of the EU 27 in which to convince them to support her Brexit plan.
Philip May points something out to his wife and Prime Minister Theresa May as they embark on a walking holiday at Lake Garda, Italy (pictured today)
The next meeting is a gathering of EU leaders in Brussels in October by which time it has been hoped a Brexit deal will be hammered out.
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Following their dinner at Downing Street three weeks earlier, the Prime Minister and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had a positive conversation ahead of the Salzburg Festival.
‘The Prime Minister updated on the White Paper, and Chancellor Kurz confirmed that Brexit would be on the agenda for the informal European Council which Austria would host on 20 September.’
Mrs May also pitched her deal planning to her Czech and Estonian counterparts, Andrej Babis and Juri Ratas, during talks at the Salzburg Festival.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is not expected to unveil his holiday plans.
MPs return from their summer break on September 5.