Paterson: PM's deal the worst possible
North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has branded Theresa May's EU deal the 'worst possible withdrawal agreement', after it was announced it would go before MPs for a fourth vote next month.
Mr Paterson, who has called for the Prime Minister to resign, said he would be voting against it once more because there has been no real change since it last went before the Commons.
But he did say that if Mrs May could persuade the EU to drop its controversial 'backstop' arrangement for Northern Ireland, then the deal would might yet get passed.
Mr Paterson, a former Northern Ireland secretary, said he was astonished during a visit to Brussels to find that a technological solution to the border problem had never been presented to the EU.
The Government has said MPs will be asked to vote on the withdrawal agreement early next month, once next week's European elections had taken place.
Labour has said it will oppose it once more unless a cross-party consensus could be reached.
Mr Paterson said: "We will vote against it, it doesn't change the essential nature of the withdrawal agreement, which is still unacceptable.
"We will still have laws imposed on us by 27 different countries, where we are not involved in drafting that law, if we don't apply that law to the satisfaction of the Commission they will speak to the European Court of Justice which can impose unlimited fines."
He said it would also potentially break up the UK by creating a new separate entity for Northern Ireland, which would be subject to different trade rules to the UK.
He added that could also result in Scotland wanting to follow suit.
"I went to Brussels with Iain Duncan Smith and Arlene Foster and Diane Dodds of the DUP to talk about the alternative arrangements," Mr Paterson said.
"We had long discussions looking at alternative customs arrangements, nothing exciting, no exciting new technology, all using existing processes, existing techniques.
"We thought the Government had presented that to Mr Barnier, and we were astonished to find they hadn't. If we had got that through, that would persuade quite a lot of people that perhaps they could accept the worst possible withdrawal agreement."
Mr Paterson said the EU's own proposals included a customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, with checks being carried away from the border.
He said this proved that such a scheme was workable, and that there would not be any need for customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.
He said while his preference would be for a comprehensive trade deal with the EU, it would be better to leave without a trade deal than under the terms of Mrs May's deal.