Cabinet ministers and loyal MPs have joined a social media campaign in support of Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Using the Twitter hashtag #BackTheBrexitDeal, senior ministers joined the co-ordinated online effort.
But other Tories were not happy, with Eurosceptic Conor Burns claiming at least one outwardly loyal MP believed it was a “dreadful deal” and their public comments must “eat at their soul”.
I'm genuinely sorry to see colleagues who have told me in person that this is a dreadful deal with the EU tweeting out the supportive line to take. That must eat at the soul.— Conor Burns (@ConorBurnsUK) November 25, 2018
The online effort was led by Downing Street, with a video selling the benefits of the deal to the public.
It is part of an effort – which included an open “letter to the nation” and the Prime Minister’s statement in Brussels directed to members of the public – to bypass MPs and speak directly to voters.
The Prime Minister faces a battle to win support for her deal in the Commons, and hopes that winning public backing will persuade MPs to fall in behind the Brexit agreement.
David Lidington, the de facto deputy prime minister, said the deal was a “good compromise” and it was time for the country to “come together”.
Today's agreement is a good compromise. The 52% get control of laws, money, borders + out of CFP; the 48% get closer trade partnership with EU than Canada or any advanced economy + cooperation on police & security. Time for country to come together & #BackTheBrexitDeal— David Lidington (@DLidington) November 25, 2018
Both Mr Lidington and Chancellor Philip Hammond – along with Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke – have threatened to quit the Cabinet rather than support a no-deal Brexit, according to a Mail on Sunday report.
The Chancellor said the deal endorsed by EU leaders in Brussels will “provide certainty for business”.
Now is the time to back the Prime Ministerâs deal. It is in the nationâs interest and will provide certainty for business - supporting the economy and securing jobs. #BackTheBrexitDeal— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) November 25, 2018
Business Secretary Mr Clark said firms needed an agreement “not the disorder of no deal”.
For jobs & prosperity businesses need: an agreement - not the disorder of âno dealâ; a transition period; a single change; and to continue to trade with EU free of tariffs, quotas & frictions at borders. Todayâs agreement can provide these which is why I #BackTheBrexitDeal— Greg Clark (@GregClarkMP) November 25, 2018
Mr Gauke said the deal was “pragmatic”, and Ms Rudd said it was “sensible” in their supportive tweets.
Among Cabinet Brexiteers, Environment Secretary Michael Gove retweeted supportive comments – but did not add his own #BackTheBrexitDeal remark.
There were no comments by 4pm on Sunday from International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt or Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom.
PM has secured a deal which respects the referendum result, ends free movement, gives us control of our money, laws and borders, and maintains the ability to strike trade deals around the world #BackTheBrexitDeal— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 25, 2018
But Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said it was a deal which “respects the referendum result”.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who was reported to have had concerns about the deal over fisheries policy, said there was no “credible alternative on offer”.
There is no credible alternative Deal on offer, only the threat of chaos or more division. And thatâs what @theSNP want as the backdrop for their #indyref2 agenda. So No Deal Brexit wouldnât just be a disaster for Scotland but also threatens integrity of the UK #BackTheBrexitDeal— David Mundell MP (@DavidMundellDCT) November 25, 2018
Backbench Eurosceptics were forthright in their condemnation of the deal.
Henry Smith said it “unnecessarily cedes key sovereignty, denying true self-determination”.
The EU Council and Commission may have just signed a post 29 March 2019 agreement with the UK Government but Parliament still has to endorse. This MP will vote no, like I suspect a majority of others because it unnecessarily cedes key sovereignty, denying true self-determination. pic.twitter.com/tdoJ8p7at2— Henry Smith MP 🇬🇧 (@HenrySmithUK) November 25, 2018
Mr Burns said: “I’m genuinely sorry to see colleagues who have told me in person that this is a dreadful deal with the EU tweeting out the supportive line to take.
“That must eat at the soul.”