Steve Baker, the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has warned that the Conservative Party will face a “catastrophic split” should the Chequers proposal be carried forward in Brexit negotiations.
Mr Baker, who resigned from the front bench in July this year in the wake of the now infamous Chequers cabinet meeting, has said that at least 80 Conservative MPs who would be willing to vote against the plan. The move is one of the strongest signs that this plan is beginning to lose significant support and puts pressure on the Government to consider abandoning the plan.
Eurosceptics argue that the plan will align the UK too closely to the European Union on regulation and alignment, which would hamper future bilateral trade deals.
Remainers too are dissatisfied with the deal as it undermines the principles of the European Single Market and would do little to benefit either the UK or the EU.
The issue is expected to dominate the Conservatives’ annual conference at the end of the month, with MPs from both sides of the argument hoping to have a serious debate on the future of the Chequers plan.
“If we come out of conference with her hoping to get Chequers through on the back of Labour votes, I think the EU negotiators would probably understand that if that were done, the Tory party would suffer the catastrophic split which thus far we have managed to avoid,” Baker told the Press Association.