Senior Tories sign letter urging Theresa May to deliver hard Brexit by 2019

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Senior Tories sign letter urging Theresa May to deliver hard Brexit by 2019
Sam Coates, Deputy Political Editor
September 7 2017, 1:00pm, 
The Times
Senior Brexit-supporting Tories are to launch a major drive to stop the government softening Brexit in a move that will deepen divisions inside the Tory party, The Times has learnt.
Tories on the European Research Group (ERG), which comprises 60 or more MPs determined to secure a hard Brexit, is circulating a letter to be published on Sunday by the chairwoman Suella Fernandes.
The letter, obtained by The Times, seeks to ensure that Britain is fully outside the European Union and pulls away from its regulatory structure from March 2019. This is likely to make a “standstill” transition deal and final deal with similar levels of access to the single market all but impossible.
The letter will be framed as an attack on Labour’s evolved position but it also seeks to bind the hands of government in a move alarming many Tory MPs who backed Remain in last year’s referendum.
This is a major challenge for Mrs May, who has often bowed to pressure from the ERG in the past and is being greeted with horror by those in government seeking to ensure that there is not a cliff edge in 18 months.

The letter was based on a note from Change Britain, the Brexit-supporting lobby group, which says it is designed to be supportive of Mrs May’s current position. Other Tory MPs see it as an attempt to bind the government’s hands during the legislative process.
The letter says: “In short, when we leave in 2019 we need to make sure we are well and truly out.”
Anna Soubry, the Tory MP and former business minister, said: “I am hugely disappointed, in the wake of the general election which saw the Conservatives lose our majority, that colleagues are seeking to bind the government’s negotiating hands in such a way as to make the hard Brexit the country and the PM doesn’t want, inevitable.”
The letter, written to be placed in a Sunday newspaper, is designed to be a warning to those who believe that the election will mean a softer Brexit. It has about 40 signatories and demands that:
•The government leaves the customs union in a way that means the UK has the immediate right to sign trade deals the day after Brexit;
•No payments into the EU budget during the transition;
•Adding the following clause to any transitional deal: “There must be a clearly defined timetable for this country’s departure from the single market and customs union. Any deal should also reserve the right for the UK government to unilaterally withdraw from the deal via domestic legislation: we need to be sure that our own Government is in charge of the deal — not the EU — and that the deal won’t become permanent.”
It says: “Continued membership of the Single Market, even as part of a transitional arrangement, would quite simply mean EU membership by another name - and we cannot allow our country to be kept in the EU by stealth. The Government must respect the will of the British people, and that means leaving the Single Market at the same time as we leave the EU. Here’s why:
“Continued membership of the ‘Single Market’ (the ‘Norway option’) — the stated goal of the Labour Party — would be an historic mistake. The truth is that the ‘Single Market’ is a political project, and requires its members to constantly introduce new EU laws. Therefore, the longer one remains a member the harder it is to leave. Contrary to claims that it is a ‘sensible’ stepping stone to independence, it is in fact a conveyer belt to ever more European integration. What’s more, for as long as we remain in the Single Market, we will have to make payments into the EU budget, and will be unable to take advantage of the freedoms available as a result of leaving the EU — such as the ability to deport foreign criminals.
“In order to ensure that no one seeks to use a transition period as means of keeping the UK in the EU by stealth, the Government must add the following clauses to any transitional deal: There must be a clearly defined timetable for this country’s departure from the Single Market and Customs Union. Any deal should also reserve the right for the UK Government to unilaterally withdraw from the deal via domestic legislation: we need to be sure that our own Government is in charge of the deal — not the EU — and that the deal won’t become permanent.
“We need to make sure the UK is not forced onto a conveyer belt of EU regulation: The European Communities Act 1972 must be repealed, in full, on exit day. Likewise, on exit day, we must ensure we are exempted from Article 3 TFEU. There can be no Henry VIII laws which automatically add EU/EEA laws onto our statute books, and we must be free to negotiate and sign trade deals during the transition period. Finally, the UK must have the power to take back control of key parts of its immigration system. In short, when we leave in 2019 - we need to make sure we are well and truly out.
“With these clauses in place the will of the British people will have been respected and the country set on a course to make a great success of Brexit.”


 
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