MP backs prime minister over Brexit
PUBLISHED: 18:01 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 03 September 2018
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A Eurosceptic Norfolk MP has vowed to back Theresa May’s controversial Chequers Brexit plan in parliament.
North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham spoke out after former foreign secretary Boris Johnson rubbished the prime minister’s proposals claiming the UK stood to get “diddly squat” from the European Union.
Mr Johnson – who quit the cabinet in the days after the Chequers plan was revealed by the PM – is thought to be working with election strategist Sir Lynton Crosby in a bid to scupper the proposal and even launch a coup against Mrs May.
Sir Henry was a signatory of a letter sent to Mrs May in February along with other Brexit-backing MPs spelling out how they wanted negotiations to develop.
However he is standing by the leader and has said he will vote in favour of the Chequers plan.
“I am a pragmatist and a realist and I take the view that anything more robust than this plan would not have been acceptable to Europe,” he said.
“In terms of a stronger, harder Brexit anything softer would I think have led to more than just the two cabinet resignations.
“What one should bear in mind is that I am sure she would not have staked her entire credibility on this plan without first sounding out the likes of Angela Merkel and I am sure the team doing the negotiations will have been given quite a good steer that something along these lines would be acceptable. Of course, all of these negotiations will go to the wire but I think it will be accepted by Europe. I think they are very keen to do a deal.
“Of course there are still some pretty big issues to get sorted including the Irish border. But I think we are close to getting an agreement and I think Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is rightly optimistic about it.
“I think there is a lot of support for Theresa May in the parliamentary party – but obviously there are some people who disagree with the Chequers plan. I think that when it becomes apparent that the proposal is acceptable to Europe it will get through parliament.
“I will be backing it. I am a Eurosceptic and it does cross some of my red lines but I have to be a realist.”
Downing Street reacted angrily to Mr Johnson’s intervention. The prime minister’s spokesman said there were “no new ideas” being put forward by Mr Johnson.