Article by Mike Hough
This article does not argue that the Prime Minister will pass her Chequers deal through Parliament, but instead proposes a case for how she might pass the deal through Parliament.
- Whittle down the Eurosceptics
According to some reports around 80 Tory Eurosceptic MPs are prepared to vote down Chequers. This number will need to be significantly reduced. Strongly suggesting it is this deal or the potential of no Brexit at all will be a powerful argument and concentrate many of the Brexiteers minds.
- Secure the support of the Europhiles
In July, 12 Conservative MPs defied the Government to vote in favour of a customs union if no free trade deal was agreed. Many more were sympathetic. These MPs main priority remains avoiding a cliff-edge Brexit. Presenting Chequers as the only way to provide certainty and avoid a ‘No-Deal’ could be the best tactic to get them in line.
- Retain the backing of the rest of the party
These are MPs who have been loyal to the Prime Minister but will be under pressure from their constituencies. Although largely pragmatic they will need to be satisfied this is the only real option and satisfies the referendum vote. A charm offensive reinforcing the potential benefits of Chequers may be necessary.
- Maintain support of the DUP
The DUP’s nine MPs could hold the balance. Traditionally very sympathetic to the Hard Brexit argument these MPs will need to be given guarantees about any hard border in Northern Ireland. Notoriously hard negotiators the DUP will have to be convinced this is the only way to avoid a hard border and secure Brexit.
- Peel off Labour MPs
In September 2017, seven Labour MPs voted with the Government over Brexit. Other Labour MPs are also keen to ensure the result of the referendum is respected (Caroline Flint, Laura Smith, Gareth Snell etc). Constructing a country before party narrative may result in a decent number of rebellions and defections.
Of course, until a deal is agreed this is all hearsay. The Chequers proposals may be comprehensively rejected or the Conservative Party may choose to move against the Prime Minister.
But, if and it is a big if, Chequers remains the general framework for a deal, these could be some of the tactics employed by the Prime Minister and the chief whips to pass the proposals.