A few weeks ago, in a conversation with the chief whip I expressed my concern that the prime minister, Mrs. Theresa May, was losing the confidence of Conservative members of parliament and that it would be in the interest of the party and the country if she were to stand aside. I have wanted to avoid the disagreeable nature of a formal vote of no confidence with all the ill will that this risks engendering.
Regrettably, the draft withdrawal agreement presented to parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative party manifesto.
That the Conservative and Unionist party is proposing a protocol which would create a different regulatory environment for an integral part of our country stands in contradistinction to our long-held principles. It is in opposition to the prime minister’s clear statements that this was something that no prime minister would ever do and raises questions in relation to Scotland that are open to exploitation by the Scottish National Party.
The 2017 election manifesto said that the United Kingdom would leave the customs union. It did not qualify this statement by saying that we could stay in it via a backstop while annex 2, Article 3 explicitly says that we would have no authority to set our own tariffs. It is also harder to leave this backstop than it is to leave the EU, there is no provision equivalent to article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.
The prime minister also promised an implementation period which was the reason for paying £39bn. As was made clear by a House of Lords report in March 2017 there is no legal obligation to pay anything. This has now become an extended period of negotiation which is a different matter.
The situation as regards the European court of justice appears to have wandered from the clear statement that we are taking back control of our laws. Article 174 makes this clear as does article 89 in conjunction with article 4.
It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative party and the 1922 committee this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader of the party, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May.
I am copying this letter to the prime minister and the chief whip and although I understand that it is possible for the correspondence to remain confidential I shall be making it public.
- Rees Mogg's letter to 1922