Tory Brexiteers bin truce with PM and accuse her of plotting to spook MPs with No Deal Brexit horrors

HARDLINE Tory Brexiteers binned a Christmas truce with Theresa May by accusing No.10 of talking up the “horrors” of a No Deal to spook MPs into backing her.

Lord Lilley – knighted by the PM last year – said Government was being “extraordinarily irresponsible and self-contradictory” in a staggering attack backed by Eurosceptic backbenchers.

It came as Theresa May spoke with European Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker in a desperate bid to prize concessions out of Brussels ahead of a crunch vote on her Brexit deal on January 15th.

Ex-Tory party leader Iain Duncan Smith warned attitudes against the PM’s deal on the backbenches had “hardened” over the Christmas break – and that the chances of a No Deal were now “more than 50 per cent”.

And in a report designed to downplay the fears of a No Deal, Lord Lilley blasted Government for spreading scare stories that helped “Brexit opposing media” to “demonise” the idea of leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The former Trade Secretary said that resorting to WTO terms after March 29 should be seen as a “safe haven” for business and consumers alike while negotiations over a free trade deal with Brussels continue.

He added that “apocalyptic” fears over the Irish border, planes being grounded and bumper customs queues at Dover were on a par with the unproven scare stories about the Millennium bug in 1999.

And he claimed that while UK exporters would face tariffs of 4 per cent on exports to the EU under a No Deal, the total bill of £5 billion to £6 billion is half the UK’s current net contribution to the EU as a member state.

The Government has warned of huge queues at ports, possible shortages of food and medicine and problems with travelling to the Continent – while stepping up preparations to cope with a No Deal.

Lord Lilley told The Sun: “The government is talking up the pretend horrors of leaving the EU with No Deal to try and bully MPs into voting for the Government’s deal. This is extraordinarily irresponsible and self-contradictory.

DUP alarm

A SENIOR Ulster Unionist stepped up the pressure on Theresa May by saying there is “no way” the DUP can support her Brexit deal.

MP Sammy Wilson said he was “more alarmed” than ever about its effect on Northern Ireland.

He added the backstop was a “con trick” to keep the UK tied to Brussels rules.

“On the one hand the Government is preparing to leave on WTO terms, while pretending that its preparations will be unsuccessful and disastrous.”

Leading Tory Eurosceptic Tory Steve Baker gave his wholehearted support to the report and said leaving on WTO terms would end the “corrosive uncertainty” about Britain’s future.

Theresa May pulled the vote on her deal before Christmas amid claims more than 100 Tory MPs were ready to vote against it – largely over concerns the UK will be tied to EU customs rules for years to come.

Hardline Brexit-backing Tories agreed to an uneasy truce after the PM survived a no confidence challenge in her leadership last month.

But, an-ex Cabinet Minister said they believed MORE Tory MPs were prepared to vote down the PM’s deal and accept a clean break with the EU – given the step up in preparations on both sides of the Channel.

They added: “I don’t know anyone on our side whose views have changed over the Christmas break. If anything people are now more resolved to vote against.”



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A No.10 spokesman said: “As a responsible Government, we are preparing for all eventualities. But we think the best thing for this country is to leave with a good deal.”

Former Tory Chancellor Lord Lamont added: “The government’s strongest card in negotiating a good free trade deal with the EU is its willingness to leave on WTO terms.

“It is extraordinary that they should be talking down that possibility which as this paper shows has been absurdly demonised.

“The Government seem desperate to scare people into accepting the unsatisfactory EU terms and to swallow the Withdrawal Agreement.”

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