Theresa May has made a secret deal with the EU to keep the whole of the UK in the customs union to avoid a hard border in Ireland it has been claimed, as the Prime Minister battles to seal a Brexit deal with the bloc.
Mrs May has secured private concessions from Brussels which would keep Britain in the customs union after Brexit, the Sunday Times reported.
The move would mean an Irish backstop, the issue that has kept the UK and the EU deadlocked for months, would not be required.
The please-all-of-the-people plan is aimed at securing the support of Remain MPs within the Conservatives ranks as well as some Labour ministers, AND there would be an exit clause in a bid to win over Tory Brexiteers.
The Prime Minister is said to be pushing to keep open the possibility of a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU in the future.
Mrs May is expected to discuss the plan with Cabinet on Tuesday and agree the final details with the EU at a special summit later this month.
The Prime Minister will reportedly warn Brexiteers that if they reject this deal they will be blamed for causing a potentially very difficult no deal scenario.
Preparations for a final Brexit deal are said to be more advanced than previously disclosed and will lead to a 50-page report being published, rather than the five page pamphlet expected.
But the proposals prompted fury from Brexiteers, with Jacob Rees-Mogg branding it a “major breach of faith”.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who is leader of the influential European Research Group, said to the Mail on Sunday: “I am assuming the Government will stick to its manifesto commitment to leaving the customs union when we leave the EU.”
And Tory backbencher Mark Pritchard warned Mrs May’s plan would lead to “severe punishment” for the party at the next general election.
Mr Pritchard said on Twitter: “Getting it wrong once is better than getting it wrong twice – but it’s still getting it wrong. Wrong being: not delivering Brexit.
“Not so much fake news as a Fake Brexit. Severe punishment at general election if this goes ahead. Appears any old deal now better than no deal (WTO).”
But Downing Street last night branded the report “speculation”.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “This is all speculation. The Prime Minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing.”
It comes after the Prime Minister has faced months of heavy criticism from prominent Brexiteers including former Brexit secretary David Davis and Boris Johnson who resigned as foreign secretary in protest of Mrs May’s Chequers blueprint.
The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019.