Scotland politics

Scottish Tory MP Ross Thomson attacks May's Brexit plan

Ross Thomson Image copyright UK Parliament
Image caption Mr Thomson was a leading Leave campaigner ahead of the EU referendum

A Scottish Conservative MP has claimed the UK government's Brexit plan will not respect the EU referendum result unless major changes are made.

Ross Thomson was one of a group of hardline Brexiteers who forced changes to the Customs Bills on Monday evening.

The government narrowly won votes on the bill despite a rebellion by pro-EU Tories angry at the changes.

Mr Thomson told BBC Scotland that he wanted to keep the government "true to its commitments" over Brexit.

The Aberdeen South MP also insisted he and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who campaigned against Brexit during the referendum, had "agreed to disagree" over Europe.

And he laughed after being asked whether he had cleared his actions in advance with Ms Davidson, before saying: "I don't clear anything with anybody, thank you".

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March of next year, but has yet to agree how its final relationship with the bloc will work.

Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet agreed a plan at Chequers last week which led to the resignations of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis and has highlighted how deeply divided the Conservatives continue to be Europe.

Some Brexiteers, including Mr Thomson, believe the Chequers plan will keep the UK too closely tied to the EU.

But pro-European Tories have accused Mrs May of "caving in" to the party's Eurosceptic wing after the government agreed to their demands to change the wording of the Customs Bill, which is one of the key pieces of Brexit legislation.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Conservatives remain deeply divided over the the Brexit plan drawn up by the prime minister and her cabinet last week

Speaking to the BBC's John Beattie programme, Mr Thomson said the Chequers plan "needs to change before it is acceptable to me and actually before it is acceptable to the country".

And he said he was concerned the plan would become "even more compromised" in negotiations with the EU.

He added: "The people voted to leave the customs union and the single market and the European Court of Justice and to take back control over our borders.

"The compromise plan that we have from Chequers doesn't achieve any of those."

Mr Thomson said the prime minister had previously used major speeches to set out her views on what Brexit actually meant, what she was seeking to achieve and what her red lines were.

And he insisted: "I am simply asking the prime minister to hold to the pledges that she has made and to keep the government true to the commitments it has made".

MPs are debating another key piece of Brexit legislation - the Trade Bill - in the Commons on Tuesday. The bill gives the government the power to build new trade relationships around the world after the UK leaves the EU.

MPs are expected to vote later on calls by pro-European Tories for the UK to stay in a customs union if there is no trade agreement by 21 January 2019.

SNP MP Peter Grant said his party wanted to ensure that leaving the EU "causes as little damage and as little harm to our economy and our society as possible".

But he said the Conservatives had "lost the plot" over Europe, and accused Mr Thomson and his colleagues of making "the worst possible kind of Brexit" more likely.

This would put "tens of thousands of Scottish jobs" at risk and cost the economy "billions of pounds", he claimed.

Mr Grant said: "If that is what Ross and his Scottish Tory colleagues call standing up for Scotland, I shudder to think what they would be doing if they were trying to harm the economy."