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Watch: Tory Brexiteer’s Call For EU Hard Brexit, WTO Rules ‘Christmas Ultimatum’


Brexiteer and key Conservative backbencher Owen Paterson addressed the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. Thursday, using the opportunity to discuss Brexit and the European Union (EU).

Slamming the EU for their foot-dragging over negotiating a trade deal with the departing United Kingdom — the number one priority for Brexit as far as the British government is concerned — former minister Paterson said the government should set a deadline, and if terms are not met to simply call off talks and unilaterally depart the union.

Articulating his aspiration that Britain should be more decisive in its dealings with the EU, Paterson said “…if the EU does not show serious intent to negotiate free trade arrangements, on the basis of reciprocal free trade based on mutual recognition of conformity of standards, by Christmas, we should give clear notice on January 1st that we’re leaving and we’re going to work on WTO terms.”

Conservative MP Owne Paterson (foreground) photographed with Brexit leader Nigel Farage at a Fishing for Leave event during the 2016 referendum campaign / Getty Images

World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms refer to the basic agreements for trade between nations set by the WTO — a global body at which Britain gave up its seat at to be represented by the European Union instead. They would allow Britain to continue trading with the world — including Europe — without striking special deals, and could nbe built upon in future with new trade agreements.

Paterson’s remarks followed others he made at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, United Kingdom earlier in the week when he stood besides fellow back-bench driving force for Brexit Jacob Rees-Mogg and said: “if the European Union is still messing around by Christmas and they haven’t started serious discussions on reciprocal free trade based on recognition of conformity of standards, we give notice on the first of January that we would be moving to WTO rules”.

On the act of leaving the European Union itself, Paterson was again upbeat, criticising the European Union for pushing voters into rejecting it and saying Britain wasn’t leaving a moment too soon. Comparing Brexit to the American declaration of independence, remarking that both 18th century colonial Britain and the 21st century European Union had indulged in “overreach”, Paterson said of Brussels: ““At every stage, they’re over-ruled the democratic views that have gone against it. And they’ve won so far. This is the first time anyone’s going to stand up to them.”

On the stuttering process of keeping the Union together among economic stagnation and increasingly reticent member states, Paterson said: “We’re only just going to get out in time, because I do not see this project succeeding long-term, and it’s certainly not succeeding economically… The UK was sold that it was joining an economic project, a market. They [the public] were never told they were actually joining a fledgling nation. They were lied to. And they’ve rumbled the lie.”

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