62 Brexiteers send demands to PM

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg - Credit: Empics Entertainment

The European Research Group of hard-line Brexit MPs has written to Theresa May setting out their red lines – and it is signed by enough Conservatives to force a leadership challenge.

ERG letter page 1

ERG letter page 1 - Credit: Archant

The group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, sent the letter on February 16 signed by 62 MPs. It claims to underline the group's support for May's leadership but has clearly been drafted amid fears from Brexiteers that the prime minister is aiming for a softer exit from the European Union.

It offers suggestions on how an 'internationally-engaged, free-trading, global Britain' might be achieved.

The 'suggestions' include:

• Taking control of our tariff schedules at the WTO

ERG letter page 2

ERG letter page 2 - Credit: Archant

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• Full regulatory autonomy

• The UK must be free to start its own trade negotiations immediately

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• Any 'implementation period' should be based on WTO principles

The letter claims to be supportive of May but clearly has threatening undertones: If Britain does not Brexit on these terms we have the numbers to topple the PM.

If just 15% of Conservative MPs were to write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, Graham Brady, saying they no longer have confidence in the PM a leadership challenge would be sparked. It is understood several such letters have already been sent. Brady needs to receive just 47.

Signatories of the letter include four former cabinet ministers and three former ministers.

Best for Britain champion and former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: 'On the eve of the crunch cabinet meeting, it seems the Prime Minister has one arm tied behind her back by the Tory militants who are now nakedly acting like a party within a party.

'Not satisfied with hijacking the referendum result for their own extreme ends, now May's militants, now called Maymentum, are hijacking the Conservative Party - one nation pro business common sense Tories must fight back for the good of our country. And the PM must listen to the people not to the far right faction who are launching this shameless coup.'

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