Brexiteer Tory MPs back European Research Group demands in letter to Theresa May

They sent a letter to the Prime Minister with “suggestions” about the divorce settlement ahead of a “Brexit War Cabinet” meeting and in the midst of a set of speeches by senior ministers.

The two-page note came from the European Research Group, a pressure group of ardent Brexiteers led by Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg.

In it, the MPs say Mrs May “must” ensure Britain can change its laws without authorisation from Brussels from the moment it leaves the bloc in March 2019.

And they demand the UK be “free to start its own trade negotiations” from day one of the transition period.

Ministers have also been urged to fight back harder against the EU setting a timetable for negotiations and to “take control” of tariff schedules – in other words the customs union.

The letter was signed off by MP John Penrose “on behalf of ERG officers” and sent to Mrs May on Friday, with a copy leaked to Sky News on Tuesday.

The requests do not necessarily defy Government policy on Brexit but come at a crucial time in negotiations within the Conservative Party about what type of divorce to pursue.

Cabinet ministers are due to meet at a Chequers “away day” on Thursday to thrash out more details on Brexit policy, with the opportunity for Mrs May to announce them in a major speech next week as part of the “Road to Brexit” series from ministers.

Some 62 MPs signed the ERG’s list of demands, including notable Brexiteers Sir Bill Cash, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel.

It is also nearly double the number needed to trigger a leadership contest.

Responding, Labour MP Chris Leslie said on behalf of the pro-EU group Open Britain: “The ERG have long felt they can dictate Government policy and they are brazenly advocating the hardest of hard Brexits.

“They continue to pretend we can have our cake and eat it, but they get away with it because of the Cabinet’s refusal to admit the truth that the Brexit we were promised can never be delivered.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *