The Sun: Theresa May must not get caught in a Von Trapp at the EU summit in Salzburg to make Brexit a success

The PM is determined and dutiful and I have no doubt this gives her great strength.

This coming week could be pivotal for Brexit. The Prime Minister will head to the continent on Thursday to visit Salzburg — like Bath, a world heritage city — to discuss her Brexit or Chequers proposals with other leaders of European governments.

To date the EU has been officially dismissive of the main elements of Chequers, the complex customs arrangements and continued use of European Rules to secure access to the single market.

Michel Barnier, who led the negotiations for the EU, has been clear that the EU cannot accept this position.

The UK must either be in the Single Market with all that goes with it — including free movement — or it may have a free trade deal instead.

In a sense, he is the keeper of the Oriflamme for the EU.

Historically, this was a sacred banner carried into battle for the kings of France when no prisoners were to be taken.

The heads of government may be more conciliatory and keener to help a fellow leader, not least as most of them face their own domestic difficulties.

It is also the usual form for the EU to make a deal.

It protests that it is strictly a rules-based organisation to maximise its negotiating strength but then, like an honest costermonger, makes the necessary trade.

At the same time the British Government seems desperate to agree something on almost any terms.

Chequers rubbed out the Prime Minister’s red lines to leave the UK “half in, half out” subject to EU regulations in crucial areas of the economy, and to the European Court of Justice.

The vassal has been put in chains.

This desperation means it will be important to watch carefully what comes out of Salzburg.

Any deal will be hailed initially as a triumph because of the hostile comments made not only by Mr Barnier but, in his recent state of the Union speech, by Jean-Claude Juncker.

Overcoming these obstacles will be portrayed as a triumph for British diplomacy.

Those who hope that Brexit will continue to mean Brexit will need to stay awake.

The first item to watch out for is money. There is no legal obligation to pay anything at all.

This has been established by the House of Lords and no credible authority has questioned their Lordships.

If we pay £40billon we must get something clear in return, not just wishy-washy promises.

Taxpayers would be outraged if it were otherwise.

Any agreement on immigration must be examined with great care.

We will doubtless be told that free movement has ended but, as Shakespeare wrote, “what’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

There ought to be no preferential terms for new arrivals from the EU above those offered to other nations and no access to state benefits.

There must be a clear differentiation in their rights after we have left and admission must be subject to a work permit scheme focused on skilled rather than unskilled labour.

The solution to the Irish question is a further area where Brexiteers must be alert. Last week the European Research Group, which I chair, produced a paper explaining how it could be answered on the EU’s terms.

Obviously the UK could simply say that there will be no physical infrastructure at the border but if instead we examine what the EU does on its other borders, and see if those precedents could be followed, then no reasonable person would think a “hard” border were necessary.

So far the inevitable attacks on our reports have been mere rudery. No one has found fault with facts.

If Ireland were used to justify the major concessions the Government is giving then we would know the deal is a bad one based on a false premise.

Almost from the beginning of the process the EU has offered a free trade deal.

It would be better than any other which the EU has so far agreed but Ireland is supposed to make it impossible.

The issue has been used by those who are fearful of leaving the EU to keep us bound by its rules and regulations.

Inevitably these complex machinations have led to some gossip about the leadership.

These stories come from all wings of the Party with pro-Europeans such as Tom Tugendhat and George Freeman suggesting it is time to move to a new generation.

However, it is worth remembering the Prime Minister’s virtues.

She is determined, thorough and dutiful, and in my view duty is an heroic virtue.

This gives her great strength and without a clear Parliamentary majority it is not obvious that anyone else could steer the negations to a conclusion.

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