A group of cross-party MPs is plotting to make Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) as ‘soft’ as possible and keep the UK in the single market.
Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green party MPs have written to Theresa May in protest following her speech last Tuesday, in which the Prime Minister pledged to take Britain out of the customs union.
If the supreme court rules on Tuesday that the issue of triggering article 50 must be voted on in parliament, Europhile MPs have agreed to work across party lines and seek to amend the legislation so as to make a ‘hard’ Brexit impossible.
The Guardian reported that the cross-party group intends to “build safeguards” into the bill which they say would prevent Britain’s EU exit from causing causing serious damage to Britain’s jobs and economy.
The letter says that leaving the single market and resorting to World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs would have a devastating effect on Britain, hiking up the cost of consumer goods and pricing manufacturers and farmers out of business.
It was coordinated by Vote Leave Watch, a group set up by former shadow business secretary and Labour leadership contender Chuka Umunna and signed by 43 Labour MPs including two current frontbenchers and ex-deputy leader Harriet Harman.
Anna Soubry, who in October said that voters who oppose mass migration but enjoy eating chicken curry are hypocrites, is among Tory MPs wanting to chain Britain to Brussels.
The open borders-backing MP said she was happy to work “with anyone from any party who has a sensible to plan that will keep all our options open, including that of staying in the EU”, if the Prime Minister is unable to secure a free trade deal with Brussels.
Labour MP Chris Leslie said he has been drawing up possible amendments to the article 50 bill that would “salvage single market participation”, which he hopes will be backed by anti-Brexit MPs across the floor.
Four different versions of the law to trigger Britain’s departure from the EU have been prepared, as ministers fear supreme court defeat this week.
The draft Acts of Parliament have been circulating as the government prepares for the ruling, and range from explicitly announcing that Britain will leave more than a dozen EU agencies, to much simpler wording, the Telegraph reported.
Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit campaign group, has warned that retaining membership of the single market would “eliminate one of the major benefits of Brexit” — the ability to strike comprehensive trade deals with countries outside the EU.