Conservative British MPs demand 'hard Brexit' clean European Union break

May, whose government and party is divided over Brexit, has just eight months to strike a withdrawal deal with the European Union but insists Britain will leave at 2300 GMT on March 29, 2019.

62 MPs, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and members of the party's Brexit-backing European Research Group (ERG), have provided Theresa May with a letter outlining six "suggestions" ahead of upcoming negotiations with the EU and a meeting on Thursday of the key Brexit sub-committee of senior ministers at Chequers, the country house of the Prime Minister, on Thursday.

The EU has said the transition phase should end on 31 December, 2020, the end of its budget period.

So, for example, your Ministers may need to discuss the division of the EU's Tariff Rate Quotas with the UK's non-EU trading partners bilaterally, and must have power to do so directly rather than only through a UK/EU agreement.

May says she wants a draft accord by October to cover future trading terms, which can then be signed soon after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc.

Responding, Labour MP Chris Leslie said on behalf of the pro-EU group Open Britain: "The ERG have long felt they can dictate Government policy and they are brazenly advocating the hardest of hard Brexits".

"We also want to share some suggestions for how it could be achieved", they wrote in the letter. "But what will be the case is, when we've agreed, there will be a fixed date".

The requests do not necessarily defy Government policy on Brexit but come at a crucial time in negotiations within the Conservative Party about what type of divorce to pursue.

"This isn't a letter, it is a ransom note", she said.

"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".

The letter included a series of suggestions for Theresa May, such as asking for "full regulatory autonomy"; only complying with the EU's vision for a transition period "if the final deal is fully negotiated"; and make sure the United Kingdom can negotiate trade deals with "third countries" as soon as it leaves the EU.

In a move seen as putting pressure on Mrs May, they said the United Kingdom must have control over laws after Brexit and be allowed to start immediately negotiating its own trade deals.

But Mrs May said this was not the case and her desired outcome remained a "bespoke economic partnership" with the European Union which also enabled the United Kingdom to "take back control" of its laws, money and borders.

  • Joey Payne