Brexiteer Tory MPs increased the pressure on Theresa May today to stick to her “red lines” ahead of crunch talks with Brussels.
In a show of strength from Brexit-backing Tories, three backbenchers urged May to cut ties with the EU so the UK could regain control of its trade and migrant policies.
The calls came a day after Brexit Secretary David Davis suggested some sectors of the economy could be given a special deal after the UK has left the EU in order to maintain a soft border in Northern Ireland.
Such an arrangement could see some regulatory alignment with the EU – meaning the UK would effectively still be bound by rules from Brussels.
In Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg urged Theresa May to stick to her guns as she tries to negotiate a breakthrough in the talks before next week’s EU summit.
He said: “Before my Right Honourable Friend next goes to Brussels, will she apply a new coat of paint to her red line because I fear on Monday they were beginning to look a little bit pink.”
May replied: “The principles on which this Government is negotiating were set out in the Lancaster House speech, they were set out in the Florence speech and those principles remain.”
Tory MP for Wellingborough Peter Bone – who founded the anti-EU group Grassroots Out – said: “When the British people voted to leave the European superstate, they voted to end the free movement of people, they voted to stop sending billions and billions of pounds to the EU each and every year and they voted to make our laws in our own country judged by our own judges. Prime Minister, are we on course still to deliver that?
“And if we have a problem, would it help if I came over to Brussels with you to sort them out.
The Prime Minister replied: “Yes we are on course to deliver what the people of this country voted for when they voted to leave the European Union.”
The third intervention came from Bernard Jenkin, who said there is a “strong enthusiasm for free trade deals” from non-EU countries such as Canada.
“None of the opportunities will come our way if remain shackled to EU regulation after we’ve left the EU,” he said:
May responded that she wanted to achieve “a good trade deal with the European Union and the freedom to negotiate these trade deals all over the world.”
May is set to return to Brussels this week to continue talks on Northern Ireland’s border with Ireland after Brexit.
After her initial plan was sunk earlier this week by the DUP, May spoke to DUP leader Arlene Foster this morning to try to thrash out a form of words which would be acceptable to the Northern Irish party.
Downing Street described the phone call as “constructive” but refused to say of any further phone calls or meetings were planned.
A spokesperson stressed that liaison with the DUP was “an ongoing process”