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Single mum launched anti-Chequers campaign from living room

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In the past few weeks, Tory MPs have publicised their Brexit concerns in an unusual way.

First a trickle, then a couple of dozen, and at last count 51 Conservatives have made online pledges for “StandUp4Brexit”, a Twitter campaign opposing a deal along the lines the prime minister outlined at her country home this summer.

Last week saw its most high-profile signing – Boris Johnson, joining other former cabinet ministers in opposing any deal in which they fear Britain may stay in the customs union and remit of the European Court of Justice oversight indefinitely.

As Downing Street enters the frantic final phase of negotiations, the number of MPs apparently keen to derail the deal in parliament is causing some concern. But who is behind it?



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Rebecca Ryan is a 41-year-old marketing consultant from Kent and a single mother who joined the Tory party just over a year ago.

She told Sky News: “Conservatives say to me you must be the only person who joined us after the last general election.

“The campaign went so badly, I wanted to volunteer my time and expertise to help them.”

After the resignations of Mr Johnson and David Davis in July, Ms Ryan says she set up the campaign “literally in a morning”, asking MPs to declare their concerns about the government’s negotiating position, either in a video recorded on their phone or in a written pledge.

Recently-elected Conservatives Maria Caulfield and Ben Bradley were among the first join. And as Tory MPs have jumped on the bandwagon, dozens have followed, with Mr Johnson’s aide contacting Ms Ryan earlier this month to offer his support.

In his online video, he says the prime minister’s plan is “a cheat and a fraud on those who voted to leave”.

David Davis has also joined in, declaring in a grainy mobile phone video: “It’s clear that the Chequers proposals don’t have support in the House of Commons.”








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Former international development secretary Priti Patel says: “The Chequers proposals would shackle us to the EU forever.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg and former minister Steve Baker are also among the names.

Ms Ryan, who works on the campaign full-time and volunteers for her local party, said: “No one controls it except me and the small group of people I work with.

“The first couple of MPs knew I worked for the Conservatives so they trusted me and that gave it a validity.



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“They knew I wasn’t some crank. And MPs talked to their colleagues, I didn’t have to ring up their offices to convince them.

“With Boris, people were giving him a nudge and saying why don’t you pledge? And then I got a text message from one of his aides saying Boris wants to pledge, and I said that’s absolutely brilliant, would he be able to do a video?”

The campaign is a threat for the Conservative whips office who try to convince MPs to voice their concerns behind the scenes, rather than go public in a way which is difficult to row back from.

If a deal is struck in Brussels in the coming weeks, it would need to be approved by parliament. With no majority, even a small number of rebels is too many.



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Ms Ryan believes there is now “no chance” of parliament supporting a deal along the lines the prime minister has suggested, unless there is a large block of Labour support. Like many Brexiteers she supports a looser “Canada-style” arrangement.

Who pays for her work, and the two other young activists who help out? She’s tight-lipped; saying they have a donations page, but no one individual bankrolls it and insists she retains editorial control.

“I could see quite clearly that people, you know, loyal Conservative supporters were in an absolute state of despair and a sense of betrayal so it was quite easy to say right, what we need to do is speak to MPs”, she said.

“I’m just facilitating the views of the public. The fact is the EU doesn’t like Chequers, the Conservative Party doesn’t like it and even Remainers don’t, but the prime minister is continuing to push it and that’s what everyone is in disbelief about.

“I just believe if you don’t deliver the Brexit that was promised, the Conservative party will be buried for a generation.”

From her living room in Kent, Rebecca Ryan hopes her campaign could play a crucial part.

Meanwhile, a poll shows that the majority of voters in all 259 Labour seats across Britain now back the idea of the public being given the final say on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

The YouGov study is based on polling of almost 26,000 people.

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