View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
6 February 2019

The Malthouse compromise can unite the Conservative Party. But it won’t fly with the EU

It’s the same old problem: the Conservative party can’t unify around a set of proposals that flies with member states.

By Eleni Courea

The Tories are buzzing with talk of the so-called Malthouse compromise. The surprise proposal was unveiled last week by senior Leavers including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Steve Baker, and Remainers Nicky Morgan and Damian Green. It involves extending the transition period by a year to December 2021, and asking the EU to replace the backstop with a basic free trade agreement. If the EU says no, the MPs want the government to ask for the extension anyway, and use it to prepare for no deal.  

But there’s a problem with the compromise: the EU won’t countenance it. There will be no transition period without a withdrawal agreement. Yet if MPs involved in the compromise are to be believed, a dozen civil servants are participating in daily two-hour discussions about how it could be made to work. So why is the prime minister entertaining the proposal? To keep her party happy. One member of the ERG warns that they won’t vote for her backstop even if it’s time-limited, because they view the entire thing as “structurally wrong.”

Meanwhile, the Malthouse plan looks poised to unite the Tories. One MP who voted against Mays deal says that “from a purely party management perspective, its the only game in town to avoid a deep and very nasty split in the coming weeks. My sense is the vast majority of the party would get round Malthouse—almost everyone apart from the odd person at either extreme of the debate.” Moderates could be swung by an extension to the transition period until the end of 2021—the biggest obstacle to which, in any other circumstances, would have been the ERG. It would give MPs the time to push their own preferred outcomes, as they can be sure that a lot can change in two and a half years.

But this is all deeply theoretical. The EU won’t grant a transition that only leads to a no-deal Brexit. If some form of the Malthouse compromise gets through the Commons, it will be roundly rejected by the EU, and the country may find itself where the ERG was happy to go in the first place: crashing out on 29 March.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU