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27th Nov 2018

Michael Fallon attacks Brexit bill as ‘the worst of all worlds’ and ‘doomed’

James Dawson

Sir Michael Fallon has been viewed as one of Theresa May’s staunchest allies

Former defence secretary and one of Theresa May’s loyalist allies, Sir Michael Fallon, has attacked the prime minister’s Brexit deal as the “worst of all worlds”, describing the bill as “doomed” to failure.

The former cabinet minister, who resigned last year over sexual misconduct allegations, said he would vote against the agreement when it comes before parliament on 11 December and called on the prime minister to renegotiate with EU leaders.

Speaking on Tuesday, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “My fear is that this deal gives us the worst of all worlds – no guarantee of smooth trade in the future and no ability to reduce the tariffs that we need to conclude trade deals with the rest of the world.

“So, unless the House of Commons can be persuaded somehow that those are possible, then I think, yes, the deal is doomed.”

Then asked if the prime minister’s position – with Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and DUP politicians planning to vote against the agreement and over 90 Tory MPs having publicly attacked it – meant she was also doom, he replied: “That’s up to my colleagues.”

Addressing Monday’s warning from Donald Trump that the agreement could make a trade deal between the two countries more difficult deal in the future, Fallon said that it was “no good brushing off” the remarks.

He added: “He is the president of the United States, and if he says it is going to be difficult then it certainly looks like it is going to be difficult.

“To do those trade deals successfully we have got to be able to reduce the external tariff, that is a tariff on goods coming in to the United Kingdom and it is clear from the documents that the rest of the European Union won’t necessarily allow that unless it gets its way on a whole host of other things. They have the levers.”

The attack, from a politician who has been viewed as one of her staunchest allies, comes as a major blow to the prime minister who on Monday launched a campaign to win public and parliamentary backing for her negotiated exit terms.

As part of a UK tour, today she will visit Wales and Northern Ireland to argue the deal provides assurances to farmers and other businesses, having last night confirmed plans to debate Jeremy Corbyn on 9 December, ahead of the final parliamentary vote two days later.

Speaking to The Sun, Theresa May said she would also be “going around the country” ahead of the vote. She added: “I am going to be explaining why I think this deal is the right deal for the UK – and yes, I am ready to debate it with Jeremy Corbyn. Because I have got a plan. He hasn’t got a plan.”