They still don’t get it! Remain MPs want the final deal put to a vote and refuse to give up on the single market
MPs opposed to leaving the EU were accused of wanting to thwart the will of the public last night after issuing the Prime Minister with a shopping list of demands for a ‘soft Brexit’.
The select committee in charge of the country’s departure from the EU told Theresa May to ensure tariff-free access to the bloc – seen as code for staying in the single market and customs union.
They also instructed her to give MPs a vote on the final deal and to agree to a transition period if no package can be agreed within two years. This would drag out the timetable for quitting the EU beyond the planned April 2019 departure date.
Remainers, led by chairman Hilary Benn, hold a 12 to nine majority on the committee.
Insiders said a string of experts who gave evidence to the committee had made it clear that if Britain wants to regain control of its borders and laws, it must quit the single market and customs union altogether.
However, in what was dubbed a ‘Remainer plot’, this statement was excluded from the final report. One observer said: ‘They are clinging to the hope we’ll stay in the single market or customs union because that’s the closest thing to us still being in the EU.’
Tory committee member Karl McCartney said the report was flawed in its call for transitional arrangements on trade and tariffs, which would ‘merely prolong the uncertainty for businesses and everyone else’.
He added he did not accept the ‘emotive and negative language from the Remain side’ that ended up in the report. ‘These MPs, I fear, are seeking to thwart the democratic will of the 17.5million people who voted to leave the EU,’ said Mr McCartney.
Peter Lilley, one of the minority of Brexiteers on the panel, said: ‘The majority on the committee are Remainers in recovery – they’re still reluctant to face up to things.’
The committee on exiting the EU released its first report last night, days before Mrs May is due to deliver her blueprint for Brexit.
It said the Prime Minister should clarify whether she aims to keep Britain in the European single market – which would require free movement of EU workers to continue – and the customs union.
The MPs also demanded a full parliamentary vote on the final deal she secures with the remaining 27 members. This would not allow MPs to block Brexit but they could reject any package they did not like. This would mean Britain leaving the EU without any deal.
Mrs May has so far refused to commit to granting a final vote, saying the public has spoken.
The MPs said it would be ‘unsatisfactory and potentially damaging’ to both the EU and UK if Britain tumbled out of the bloc without a deal when the two-year Article 50 deadline expires.
The report said an abrupt ‘cliff edge’ departure would be extremely disruptive and a lack of transitional arrangements could push some businesses to relocate out of the UK or move investment overseas.
The committee also warned that a return to ‘tariffs and other regulatory and bureaucratic impediments to trade would not be in the interests of UK or European businesses and therefore the Government should strive to ensure that this does not happen’.
Mr Benn said: ‘Whatever deal is concluded, Parliament must be given a vote on it and the Government should make this clear now.’
No 10 has indicated strongly that Britain will quit the single market, but a debate is still taking place over the separate customs union.
Former justice minister Dominic Raab, a Brexit committee member, said: ‘The expert witness consensus is that Britain will not stay formal members of the single market or customs union, but aim to maintain barrier-free trade.
‘That is also the message we’re getting from the EU so the debate about this feels like a phoney war.’
Michael Gove, who led the Leave campaign and sits on the Brexit committee, warned Mrs May she must deliver ‘full Brexit, not fake Brexit’ – which he insisted means leaving the customs union. In a newspaper column, he said that if pro-Remain MPs tried to make the new relationship with Europe as much like the old one as possible they will get ‘an almighty kick in the ballots at the next election’.
John Longworth, of the Leave Means Leave campaign, said: ‘The Government must enter the negotiations with the aim of getting the best deal for Britain. If this isn’t possible the Government must waste no time and be prepared to walk away with or without a trade deal.’
January 14th, 2017: Daily Mail