Jacob Rees-Mogg and friends to challenge May with own plans for Hard Brexit
PUBLISHED: 10:48 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:49 14 August 2018
Jacob Rees-Mogg and his European Research Group are to directly challenge Theresa May with their own blueprint setting out plans for a Hard Brexit.
The Times reports today that the group of around 60 to 80 Hard Brexit-supporting Tory MPs have begun work on what is effectively a riposte to the prime minister's Chequers plan, calling for Britain to fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms.
According to the newspaper, it will be published before the Tory conference in Birmingham next month, heaping more pressure on the beleaguered PM.
Although it is likely to allow for a possible Canadian-style trade agreement, that is only if the EU backs down on the Irish border - in reality, all but impossible - so would see Britain trading with the bloc on WTO terms.
Mr Rees-Mogg and his group have been increasingly calling for a no-deal Brexit under the mantra "no deal is better than a bad deal".
It is understood the hard-line backbencher is working with Steve Baker, a former junior minister at the Brexit department who followed his boss David Davis in quitting in protest at Mrs May's Chequers deal.
A senior ERG source told The Times: “We have made it very clear that we do not accept the Chequers proposals, but there is an acknowledgement that we need to make the case for an alternative.
"The tricky bit is coming to a common position that everyone can sign up to, but I’m confident that we should be able to achieve that.”
Another source was quoted as saying: “We are working to come up with a positive policy paper that will take a realistic approach outlining what is acceptable in line with the referendum result.”
The Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Lilley, another Hard Brexiteer, also writes in The Times today, painting a rose-tinted picture of what will happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a scenario most mainstream economists have described as "crashing out" of the EU.
He writes: "Lorries laden with fresh food will not be queueing for hours at Dover since Dover sees no need for new physical checks.
"Tariffs would be collected electronically like excise and VAT. If some firms initially fail to complete electronic customs declarations, HMRC will avoid delays by waving lorries through.
"If the French slow down Calais, the Dutch and Belgian ports want the business and will offer speedier service."
Another Tory group of MPs, the Brexit Delivery Group, has also formed with the aim of delivering a "pragmatic Brexit Delivery Group". It is led by Simon Hart and Andrew Percy, two MPs seen as being on the party's more centre-left wing.