The Conservatives will be “screwed” at the next general election unless Theresa May changes her Brexit policy, says a Scottish Tory MP.
Ross Thomson, a prominent Leave campaigner in Scotland, condemned Mrs May’s Chequers plan, which seeks to maintain close ties with the EU.
The model has infuriated many Brexit supporters and led to the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis.
It has also prompted Tory Eurosceptics to table amendments to a key bill on customs arrangements that could kill off Mrs May’s vision for future relations with the EU.
The Conservative leader is at risk of suffering more damaging resignations with the publication of her White Paper today, which sets out the new Brexit policy in detail.
The Chequers policy, which secured Cabinet agreement last week before sparking senior resignations, includes being tied to the European single market for goods under a “common rule book” and close customs arrangements as part of a new UK-EU free trade area.
The PM insisted that the deal she agreed with her Cabinet at Chequers last week “delivers on the vote that people gave on Brexit” in the 2016 referendum.
But prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg described it as a “breakdown in trust” and said Mrs May must now U-turn or be forced to rely on Labour votes to get her legislation through Parliament.
Mr Thomson said the Chequers plan would be the equivalent of being “in the customs union in all but name, in the single market in all but name, and essentially still under the jurisdiction” of the European Court of Justice.
The Aberdeen South MP told the Brexit Central podcast: “If we do not make changes to what is being put before us then we are, to be quite frank with you, screwed going forward to a general election.
“We will have let down people who voted for us on the clear manifesto pledge of leaving the EU, being out of the customs union, out of the single market and fundamentally outwith the jurisdiction of the ECJ.”
But the ex-MSP said the PM is the “best person to deliver Brexit”, adding he had not considered writing a letter calling for a vote of no confidence.
Some 48 letters would be required to trigger a vote.
Andrew Bridgen became the first Conservative MP to declare publicly that he has sent a letter of no confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.
Amid growing discontent on the Tory backbenches, Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns warned that more resignations could follow those of Mr Johnson, Mr Davis, Brexit minister Steve Baker, two Conservative vice-chairs and two parliamentary aides.
“I think if the Prime Minister makes further concessions with the EU then there will no doubt be more resignations from Brexiteers in the Cabinet, from junior ministers to PPSs, because there is only so much that you can give in a negotiation,” she told the BBC.
But leading Eurosceptic Bernard Jenkin played down the prospects of more walkouts from the administration.
“For the record … ERG (the pro-Brexit European Research Group) is not expecting any further resignations, nor were we expecting any in the first place,” said Mr Jenkin.
“Nor do we expect a leadership challenge. We are supporting Theresa for PM,” he added.
Speaking at the Nato summit in Brussels, Mrs May insisted that her Chequers deal delivered on the “red lines” which she set out in her Lancaster House speech last year.
“It delivers on the vote that people gave on Brexit, it delivers the fact that we will have an end to free movement, we will have an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, we won’t be sending vast contributions to the EU every year, we’ll be out of the Common Agricultural Policy, out of the Common Fisheries Policy,” she said.