Eurosceptics lay down Red Lines for Brexit

Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski, Telford's Lucy Allan and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson are among 62 Conservative politicians who have signed a letter from the pro-Brexit European Research Group setting out their demands for any trade deal between Britain and the European Union.

The 62 MPs, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, insist the UK must retain "full regulatory autonomy" after it leaves the EU and must be free to sign trade agreements with other countries during the transition period.

Mr Paterson is one of four ex-Cabinet ministers who have signed the letter, along with former international development secretary Priti Patel, former Welsh secretary John Redwood, and ex work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Other signatories include Bridgnorth-based Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, who is MP for Stone, North Herefordshire's Bill Wiggin, and Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes.

Mr Kawczynski said yesterday, after details of the letter emerged, that Brexit would present many exciting opportunities to embrace trade with countries outside of the European Union.

"Many moderate people in Britain today are starting to see the real potential for global Britain in new era of national sovereignty, independent foreign and trading policy and domestic accountability," he said.

The letter is significant because if the 62 MPs fail to back a deal agreed between the Prime Minister and the European Union, it would leave her depending on support from Labour to get the deal through the Commons.

The MPs tell the Prime Minister she has their "continued, strong backing" for her vision of a free-trading, global Britain, laid out in her Lancaster House speech in January last year.

But they also warn that the UK must have full control over laws after Brexit and must not become a "rule taker".

They insist that Mrs May must not agree to anything that would stop Britain negotiating and signing trade deals with other countries during any transition period.

"The UK must be free to start its own trade negotiations immediately," they say.

"The UK should negotiate as an equal partner.


"Ministers may not want or be able to accept the EU's timing and mandates as fixed, and should be able to set out alternative terms including, for example, building an agreement based on our World Trade Organisation membership instead.

"Any implementation period must not restrain the UK from negotiating or signing other trade agreements."

Labour said the letter exposed the "deep divisions" in the Conservative Party.

Paul Blomfield, shadow Brexit minister, said: "It is clearer than ever that Theresa May cannot deliver the Brexit deal Britain needs.

"She is too weak to face down the fanatics in her own party and to deliver a final deal that protects jobs and the economy."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, a supporter of the Best For Britain against Brexit, said: "It seems the Prime Minister has one arm tied behind her back by the Tory militants who are now nakedly acting like a party within a party.

"Not satisfied with hijacking the referendum result for their own extreme ends, now May's militants, now called Maymentum, are hijacking the Conservative Party - one nation, pro business, common sense Tories must fight back for the good of our country.

"And the PM must listen to the people, not to the far-right faction who are launching this shameless coup."

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Stephen Gethins said: "The process for leaving the EU has been hijacked by hard right Tories whose agenda for Brexit at any costs will be devastating for us all in terms of jobs, the economy and opportunities for young people in the future.

"It is clear from this list of demands that the Tories don't want either a transition deal or a future relationship with the EU. It is time for the Prime Minister to put country before party and say no to her hard right Brexiteers."


Friday, February 23, 2018