Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned Theresa May not to perform a “unconscionable” U-turn and allow EU citizens who move to the UK during the Brexit transition period to have full freedom of movement rights.
The leading Tory backbench Brexiteer hit back after marathon gathering of senior Cabinet members met to find a united front on EU withdrawal.
Last month May indicated new EU migrants coming to the UK after March 2019 should not expect to be granted full citizens’ rights.
However according to The Times, the prime minister now plans to allow EU citizens who arrive during the planned two-year transition period to remain permanently.
Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Friday he would be “astonished” if May “made a U-turn of that kind”.
“She is a lady of great backbone and for her to kowtow to the EU is, I think, unconscionable,” he said.
“Mrs May said while she was in China she wasn’t going to do that and people who came after we left would be subject to different conditions which seems absolutely right.
“We are leaving the EU on the 29th March. We will be out of the treaties on that date. We will not have any say in the rules that are made.
“Therefore people who come after that date ought not to be allowed to have the full and permeant free movement rights that would be quite wrong.”
May is also facing the threat of a Commons rebellion from the pro-Europe of her party over whether the UK will stay in the customs union.
Former minister and leading Tory rebel Anna Soubry insisted she had cross-party support for a new amendment to the government’s trade bill which would mandate the UK to form a customs union with Brussels after Brexit.
The move presents an increased danger to the PM because Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the party now backed a customs union that would look “pretty much like” the current one after withdrawal.
Soubry said she had widespread support for her amendment, tweeting: “It would be in the national interest if the Government & official Opposition also backed it.”
The Chequers “away day” saw the inner Cabinet committee discuss the impact of Brexit on the automotive sector, agri-foods, digital trade, as well as the overall future economic partnership the UK is seeking to reach with the EU.
May will set out the Brexit agenda in a major speech next week following a meeting of the full Cabinet.
Jeremy Corbyn is to unveil a competing vision of how Brexit should work in what is being billed as a significant address on Monday, after some backbenchers called for more clarity from the leadership.
The trade bill is not expected to be debated by MPs for a number of weeks .
The lengthy Chequers meeting included dinner which consisted of a starter of cream of sweetcorn soup, ham hock croquette and cured duck and egg yolk, followed by a main course of slow braised Guinness short rib of Dexter beef with onions, parsnip mash and root vegetables, with a dessert of lemon tart with raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries.