Battle for EU exit MUST now be ramped up, say campaigners
BREXIT campaigners will now step up their drive to ensure the government delivers a clean break with Brussels.
As general elections votes are being counted, leading figures in the effort to get Britain out of the EU insisted the incoming administration must be ready to fight for Britain in the negotiations that are due to begin in just 10 days’ time.
The face-to-face talks with EU leaders on the UK’s future relationship with Brussels will be the top priority for the prime minister once the Cabinet has been named.
Once the election result is confirmed, Leave campaigners will make the case for the government to firmly resist demands from the EU for a swingeing divorce fee of up to £85billion.
They will also say the prime minister must be ready to walk away from the negotiating table if the Eurocrats insist on trying to punish Britain.
Richard Tice, co-chairman of the Brexit-backing pressure group Leave Means Leave, said: “If the EU bureaucrats continue to be unwilling to have constructive negotiations with Britain and instead continues to demand outrageous ransoms out of thin air, then the prime minister must walk away and the sooner the better.”
He added: “It may be the case that no deal is the best deal – adopting the same World Trade Organisation rules used by most great global nations will be perfectly acceptable.”
Veteran Eurosceptic Andrew Rosindell, who was standing to be re-elected as Tory MP for Romford in the election, said: “The Prime Minister has an opportunity to be bold in these negotiations but mustn’t be pushed into agreeing to pay an absurd sum to leave the EU.
“Paying to officially leave would be an insult and one that we must never accept. This should be understood in advance.”
And Mo Metcalf-Fisher, Tory grassroots movement Conservative Progress, said last year’s EU referendum had already given the prime minister “the go-ahead to secure a clean Brexit”.
He said: “Any attempt to undermine Britain must be met robustly. We are a strong nation and one that will never be pushed about.”
Former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who chaired the Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the EU referendum, said: “The negotiations which are beginning in earnest the day of the Queen’s Speech must be guided by three principles.
“First, the referendum result requires that we break the supremacy of the European Court of Justice, that we take back control over decisions on immigration, tax and trade and there are no automatic contributions to EU institutions.
“Second that we enter the discussions as equals.
“Third these negotiations are too important for all to be dominated by petty squabbling, leaks and bickering.
“It will require politicians of stature. It’s going to be as simple or as complicated as we choose to make it.
“Voters here and across Europe look to their politicians to act in their best interest.
“And grown up politicians will see that free and frictionless access to trade will be in everyone’s best interest.”
Britain’s team will go up against European Commission President Jean-Claude and EU chief negotiator Michael Barnier in the crunch talks.
The discussions are due to begin on June 19, the same day as the State Opening of Parliament at Westminster.
They are expected to continue throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Most of the negotiations are expected to be held in Brussels, although European Commission officials may travel to the UK for some meetings.
Reports on the progress of the talks are expected to be published each month, giving leaders of the 27 remaining EU member states opportunity to feed their views into the process.
Officials want issues to be dealt with in successive four-week long stages in an attempt to prevent the process breaking up into a series of parallel discussions running simultaneously.
Brussels insiders say the Eurocrats want to thwart any attempt by the British negotiating team to try to trade off issues against each other by running “parallel” talks.
They are seeking to ensure the issue of a departure payments, with figures of up to 100 billion euro (£85billion) floated by Brussels sources.
Only once that figure has been finalised, along with the issue of the UK’s future border arrangements with Ireland, will they allow the future trade relationship between Britain and the EU to be discussed.
Both sides in the negotiations are braced for a rocky start to the process as the teams set out their opening gambits.
Last month, Tory EU Exit Secretary David Davis set the scene for “a summer of rows” with the two sides not even yet agreed on the structure of the talks.
One EU official said this week: “All the talk is over the big crisis, the walkout – and if it will be in the summer or October. We know it is coming.”
One thing the two sides agree on is that EU citizens’ rights in the UK and those of Britons living on the Continent must be settled as an early priority – although there is no certainty that even those terms will be easily settled.
Mr Juncker has been publicly scathing about government’s preparedness for the talks and Mr Barnier’s team are giving little away about their tactics.
The journey towards Brexit began in earnest on November 25, 2010, when the Daily Express launched our historic crusade to win back Britain’s independence from Brussels rule.
Our readers backed the calls in their hundreds of thousands, piling on the pressure to the point where the then Tory prime minister David Cameron felt he had no option but to promise an in-out referendum on EU membership.
On June 23, 2016, the country went to the polling booths – and delivered one of the most stunning results in political history by voting by 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent to bring down the curtain on more than 40 years’ membership of the European bloc.
It cost Mr Cameron his job having spearheaded the campaign to stay – and put Mrs May in Number 10 last July after a short, sharp Tory leadership contest.
She resisted demands to start the formal Brexit process straight away, arguing that her team needed time to talk to other EU governments and formulate an approach.
Once she was ready to move, legal action by anti-Brexit campaigners forced her to secure backing from MPs and peers before she could fire the starting gun on up to two years’ of talks with the rest of the EU.
Finally, on March 30, 2017, 2,316 days after the Daily Express became the first mainstream national newspaper to demand Brexit and nine months after the British people backed that call in a referendum – she invoked the now-famous Article 50 of the EU treaties formally to notify Brussels that the UK was leaving.
June 8th, 2017: Express