Maria Caulfield MP, who resigned as Tory vice-chairman after Theresa May imposed her ultra-soft ‘Brexit’ plan at Chequers, has warned that a Downing Street “cabal” is treating Leave supporters “with contempt”.
The Member of Parliament for Lewes complained that, instead of working towards a practical free trade pact along the same lines as the one between the EU and Canada, this cabal has “dreamt up a complex arrangement that seeks to recreate large parts” of Britain’s EU membership, in an article for The Telegraph.
She took aim at the so-called “common rulebook” which Mrs May is willing to submit to, which would, in fact, be the EU’s rulebook, with no opportunity for the United Kingdom to diverge from its rules without being subject to unspecified “consequences”.
“Accepting a ‘common rulebook’ sounds innocuous but means accepting EU rules over the regulation of our domestic economy with no say,” Caulfield explained.
“This replicates the key problem with the EU, a fig leaf of sovereignty covering the modesty of EU vassalage. We would [be] taking dictation from Brussels.”
Caulfield also warned that the deal — actually an “opening bid” which would likely become worse following haggling with the EU’s negotiators — risked seriously undermining British democracy and public confidence in the political system.
“If we end up leaving in name only, accepting EU rules over which we have no say, collecting EU taxes and have the threat of a backstop hovering over us, how can politicians look the electorate in the eye and say we respected their decision?” she asked.
“Big corporate lobby groups congratulating themselves on this wheeze should consider whether this is really good for the country and them.”
She also urged the Tory leadership to consider the possible impact on the party of appealing to Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Scottish Nationalist MPs to help ram the deal through Parliament in the teeth of opposition from Brexiteer Tories, describing this as “the logic of the madhouse”.
“If the plan is to split the Conservative Party the precedents are there: [Robert] Peel put the Conservatives out of office for a generation, Maastricht did the same,” she observed, referring the party’s split over the Corn Laws in the 1800s and the struggle over the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union in the 1990s.
“I am not a rebel: far from threatening the PM the way a handful of colleagues selfishly have ever since the country voted to leave the EU, I loyally supported her,” Caulfield concluded.
“While I did not expect my loyalty to be rewarded, I did not expect it to be treated with contempt… I cannot remain silent. We need to keep faith with our voters, our democracy, the Conservative Party and the country.”