MATT FOSTER,PoliticsHome|AIWA! NO!|
Theresa May has called on the public to unite behind her Brexit deal as EU leaders prepared to formally sign off the agreement.
In an emotional open letter, the Prime Minister vowed to pour her “heart and soul” into getting the blueprint through Parliament next month, despite strong cross-party opposition.
Arlene Foster; the unionist leader – whose 10 MPs prop up the Conservatives – said she was more concerned about the Brexit agreement than the election of Mr Corbyn, who has previously expressed support for a united Ireland.
Asked by The Times if Mrs May’s deal was a greater threat than a Labour government, Ms Foster said: “I think it is, and the reason I say that is on day one of us leaving the European Union there would be no difference, we would be exactly the same as the rest of the UK but in year five or ten we would be different.”
Mrs May will meet the 27 other EU leaders at a special summit in Brussels where the 585-page withdrawal agreement, as well as a 26-page future relationship document, will be formally ratified.
She said: “I want that to be a moment of renewal and reconciliation for our whole country.
“It must mark the point when we put aside the labels of ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ for good and we come together again as one people.
“To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal. I will be campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote.”
The letter is also notable for its direct mention of Gibraltar, just hours after a fresh row over the disputed British territory.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez claimed that the UK and EU had caved into his demands to open talks on joint sovereignty of the rock following a threat to veto the Brexit deal.
Mrs May swiftly denied that was the case, telling reporters: “The UK’s position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar has not changed and will not change.”
But the Prime Minister faced a furious backlash from Brexiteers in the UK after British ambassador Sir Tim Barrow penned a letter saying that the withdrawal agreement would impose “no obligations” for Gibraltar to be covered by a future EU trade deal with the UK.
Conservative Eurosceptic Nadine Dorries said: “May has capitulated to every single EU demand. She’s abandoned NI [Northern Ireland], and now Gibraltar.
“At no time does she push back.”
Meanwhile fellow Brexiteer Andrew Rosindell warned the Prime Minister to make “no compromise on Britain’s right to defend and negotiate on behalf of Gibraltar”.
He told the Mail on Sunday: “She must vow that Spanish attempts to use this constitutional weapon to try somehow to divide the Rock and the UK will not work.”
In her letter to the nation, Mrs May says she is “determined” to press ahead with a Brexit deal “that works for every part of our country”, including “for our Overseas Territories like Gibraltar, and also for the Crown dependencies”.
The Prime Minister’s bid to go over the heads of MPs angry with her Brexit deal and directly appeal to the public came as it was reported that ministers are still drawing up a “Plan B” alternative to her agreement.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that senior Cabinet figures are fleshing out plans for an alternative, Norway-style relationship with the EU in which the UK would remain a member of the European Economic Area.
According to the paper, the economic modelling provided to MPs ahead of the crucial vote on Mrs May’s deal will include analysis of an “EEA-like scenario” as an alternative to both her deal and a no-deal exit from the bloc