Only alternative to Chequers is no Brexit deal, says Theresa May.
Theresa May has warned Tory MPs who want to scupper her Brexit plan that they must choose between her proposed deal with the EU or no deal at all.
In an interview with the BBC programme Panorama, to be broadcast on Monday evening, the prime minister also criticised Tory Brexiteers’ plans to resolve the Irish border question.
She told the BBC’s Nick Robinson that if parliament does not give her controversial Chequers plan the green light, then “I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal”.
Mrs May said there needs to be “friction-free” movement of goods across the Irish border, without customs or regulatory checks between the UK and EU, after Brexit.
Last week, a group of Brexiteer Conservative MPs said a hard border could be avoided through the use of “established” technology and performing extra checks away from the border.
But Mrs May said the European Research Group’s counter-proposal would not “solve the issue of no hard border by having a hard border 20km inside Ireland”.
She said: “The people of Northern Ireland deserve to be listened to in these negotiations by the UK government, as do people elsewhere in this country.
“I want to ensure that as we go forward we have that strong union… Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. They don’t want a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
“The only proposal that’s been put forward that delivers on them not having a hard border and ensures that we don’t carve up the United Kingdom is the Chequers plan.”
However, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has continued his attacks on the prime minister, while backing the ERG proposals for the Irish border.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “If the Brexit negotiations continue on this path they will end, I am afraid, in a spectacular political car crash.
“If we are to get out of this mess, and get the great British motor back on track, then we need to understand the Irish backstop, and how it is being used to coerce the UK into becoming a vassal state of Brussels.”
Mr Johnson said the EU’s backstop would leave a border down the Irish sea while the UK’s proposal left it “volunteering” to “remain effectively in the customs union and large parts of the single market until Brussels says otherwise”.
He added: “Both versions of the backstop are disastrous. One threatens the union; the other version – and its close cousin, Chequers – keep us effectively in the EU, as humiliated rules takers.
“We need to challenge the assumptions of both these Irish backstops, or we are heading full throttle for the ditch with a total write-off of Brexit.”
According to The Times, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is drafting a new “protocol” text that includes the use of technology to minimise checks at the Irish border.
Diplomatic notes seen by the paper state: “The biggest unsolved problem is Northern Ireland.
“There is a political mobilisation in the UK in this regard. Therefore, we are trying to clarify the EU position.”
Meanwhile, a ComRes poll for BBC Radio 5 Live found 50% of British adults believe Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK, compared to 41% who think it will be positive.
Some eight out of 10 voters, 79%, think Brexit negotiations have been badly handled by the government.
In Monday’s Panorama, Mrs May also says she is irked by the talk surrounding her future as leader.
She said: “I get a little bit irritated but this debate is not about my future, this debate is about the future of the people of the UK and the future of the United Kingdom.”
The interview was carried out at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country retreat.
Photographs show Mrs May sipping tea with her husband Philip while watching an episode of ITV’s The Chase with her official red box of government documents at her side.