Sources in the Conservatives who spoke on condition of confidentiality told the Independent said that May won’t be able to renegotiate the Chequers plan if it is rejected by Parliament and the EU.
The prime minister is expected to present her views to the cabinet on Tuesday, outlining updated proposals relating to future customs arrangements and EU regulations to secure the Brexit deal.
“The prime minister has three potential courses of action if her deal is voted down by Parliament or rejected in Brussels,” a Conservative party member said. “In that case, she may be tempted to try to return to the negotiating table and develop Chequers with further concessions, or alternatively go down the route of joining the EEA. Neither of those is going to be acceptable to the party if Chequers has already been rejected.”
“If she undertakes to secure that deal, it would be the only credible way she could possibly stay in the job at that point,” the source said.
Earlier this week during the Conservative Party conference, it was revealed that MP James Duddridge had sent a letter to the chairman of the Conservative 1922 backbench committee calling for a leadership contest. According to the party rules, the 1922 chair must receive 48 letters from MPs to call a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.
Another Conservative MP confirmed that May was given an ultimatum to pursue a Canada-style free trade deal if the Chequers plan fails, or else face ouster.
“Delivering a free trade deal as the only option left that could get through Parliament after the death of Chequers, is the only thing she might stay on to do. Even then it would be in the face of calls to quit,” he said.
On Thursday, Tusk said that a Canada-style deal had always been possible “from the beginning” of the negotiations. The final round of Brexit talks between the UK and the EU is planned for October 16. After that, May will have only until November 16 to make any amendments to the Brexit plans.