Pro-Leave Tories Make Final Plea for Full Brexit Ahead of Crunch Vote on May Deal

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A group of senior Tory MPs including several former ministers have stepped up calls for the Brexit vote to be respected and for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union cleanly as the Commons prepares to vote on Theresa May’s compromise deal on Tuesday.

In a joint letter published Monday, 12 former cabinet ministers said the nation had to prepare to Brexit on No Deal terms and adopt a standard World Trade Organization (WTO) relationship with the EU — Westminster jargon for properly leaving the European Union without paying a £39 billion “divorce bill” or being subject to EU rules and laws in the future.

Among those co-signing the letter was former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, former Brexit ministers David Davis and Dominic Raab, and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who also penned an opinion piece for the Daily Telegraph newspaper putting his case more forcefully.

The letter, which was sent to all Tory MPs and called on them to vote against their Prime Minister and party leader, argued that the short-term inconvenience of a “Hard Brexit” is far preferable to the terms of the deal Mrs May has proposed, which they explain would actually prevent a future good relationship from forming.

They wrote: “[W]e can and must fulfil the democratic wishes of the people of the UK. Parliament has an obligation to deliver on the 2016 referendum result to take back control over borders, laws, and money. The Conservative Party Manifesto and the Prime Minister in several speeches (including Lancaster House, Mansion House, and Florence) promised to be true to that vote and to ensure the UK does indeed take back control to become a self-governing nation again.

“The manifesto committed us to leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. Disregarding such promises risks having dire electoral consequences.

“That is why, if it is the only way forward, we must have the confidence to be ready to leave on WTO terms. A managed WTO Brexit may give rise to some short-term inconvenience and disruption, but the much greater risks arise from being locked into a very bad deal.

“Thankfully the UK and other EU governments, and the EU itself, are all accelerating plans for a managed no deal exit.”

In his Telegraph appeal, former Vote Leave frontman Boris Johnson called on fellow parliamentarians to be “brave” as the meaningful vote approached.

“This deal would still make it impossible to do big free trade deals – as the U.S. ambassador has correctly pointed out. It would prevent us from engaging in the kind of regulatory divergence – control of our own laws – that people voted for,” he pointed out.

“And since not a dot or a comma of this deal has changed in the past month, it still means that we are set to hand over £39 billion for nothing, and with no guarantees about our future relationship.”

The two-time Mayor of London insisted Mrs May’s deal was “the worst of both worlds, by which we somehow leave the EU but end up being run by the EU” — envisioning, as it does, a years-long “transition” period in which Britain effectively remains an EU member without any EU representation, followed by an EU-dominated “backstop” the country cannot leave unilaterally if a future partnership is not agreed.

“[E]ven if MPs were collectively of one mind, and even if they had decided that the 2016 referendum should be simply set aside – as John Major bizarrely suggested yesterday – they would be taking a huge risk in trying so nakedly to thwart the will of the people,” he warned.

“The House of Commons voted by 544 to 53 in favour of the Referendum Bill in 2015. All Tory and Labour MPs campaigned on manifestos that promised, in 2017, to implement the result – which, in case you have forgotten, was that Leave won with a majority of more than a million,” he added.

“There is time. If we are brave, we have nothing to fear; and I fear the consequences of no Brexit far more than I fear no deal.

“On Tuesday, we must have the courage to vote down this lamentable deal and kill it off once and for all.”

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