Brexiteers' letter adds to pressure on May

Sandcastle with EU and UK flags Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Summer's over and the pushback over Brexit has begun

After a summer where Tory supporters of a more gradual Brexit were heartened by statements from ministers, now comes the, probably inevitable, pushback.

A letter leaked to the BBC, signed by dozens of Tory MPs, was scheduled for the pages of a Sunday newspaper, demanding that Theresa May stand firm, and stick to her original plan for Brexit.

The letter will be seen as a warning to ministers too, particularly Chancellor Philip Hammond who Eurosceptics see as trying to water down Mrs May's original Brexit plan to leave the single market and customs union.

The letter demands that the government resists any move to keep the UK in the EU "by stealth" and is also designed to put pressure on Labour's new position on Brexit, which advocates a more gradual departure.

Organisers of the letter say it's designed to be supportive of the prime minister, to bolster her Brexit convictions.

But with pressure from Remain sympathisers on one side, this new push from Brexiteers will remind Number 10 in no uncertain terms that the government is under pressure from all sides.

You can judge how supportive of the government the letter really is, by reading it yourself:

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Image caption The letter will be seen as a warning to ministers to stick to Mrs May's original Brexit plan

"Dear Sir,

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 European Union (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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