Rees-Mogg Tory Group Send Clean Brexit ‘Ransom Letter’ to Appeaser Theresa

Rees-Mogg
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty
LIAM DEACON

More than 60 backbench Tory MPs have sent the Prime Minister a list of demands that will guarantee a clean break from the European Union with “full regulatory autonomy” outside the bloc.

The delivery of the letter – sent by the European Research Group (ERG) led by Jacob Rees-Mogg – comes ahead of a key Brexit meeting of the Cabinet, when the UK’s negotiating position will be decided.

The letter backs the vision of Brexit set out in Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech given in January 2017, including leaving the Customs Union and Single Market, and insists the Tories stick to their manifesto pledges.

Opponents of Brexit, however, claim that the list of “suggestions” was effectively a “ransom letter” sent to Mrs. May, and urged her to push back against the Brexit-supporters.

Nicky Morgan, the anti-Brexit chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said: “This isn’t a letter, it is a ransom note. The ERG clearly think they have the Prime Minister as their hostage.”

Tory MP Anna Soubry, another vocal Tory opponent of Brexit, said the “PM [is] mistaken if she thinks she can appease them [the ERG].”

The letter says that Britain “must have the ability to change British laws and rules once we leave, rather than being a ‘rule taker’ without any substantive say in whatever Brussels decides.”

Furthermore, “the UK must be free to start its own trade negotiations immediately,” and “any implementation period must not restrain the UK from negotiating or signing other trade agreements”.

It is signed by four ex-Cabinet ministers and nine other former ministers, including the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel, who was the Secretary of State responsible for foreign aid until last year.

The intervention follows numerous hints that the government is preparing to backtrack and keep the UK tide to the Single Market and some form of customs union, with much of the bloc’s rules and regulations remaining in place.

The Prime Minister has promised ‘regulatory alignment’ between the EU and Northern Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, without specifying if or how the rest of the UK could do this and diverge in any way from EU standards.

A two-year ‘transition period’ has also been verbally agreed with the bloc, and EU leaders are pushing for mass, uncontrolled migration to continue during this period.

 

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