Brexit: 60 Tory MPs call on May to pull UK out of the Single Market

A group of 60 pro-Brexit Conservative MPs has demanded Prime Minister Theresa May pulls Britain out of the Single Market.

The ministers, which include seven former cabinet members, have put their names to the “hard Brexit” demand through the Sunday Telegraph, amid concerns that Remain figures in the cabinet are watering down the government’s Brexit position.

Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, John Whittingdale and Theresa Villiers are among the Eurosceptics who have said only an exit from the Single Market can “untie” the UK “from EU shackles and freely embrace the rest of the world”.

Read more: London unlikely to lose out on euro clearing post-Brexit

The public call for hard-Brexit terms coincides with the relaunch of the European Research Group. The organisation will be a pro-Brexit Tory body that will apply pressure to the government over the negotiations.

A hard Brexit, or “clean” Brexit, would entail the UK leaving both the EU and Single Market and then, at least initially, having a relationship based on World Trade Organization rules. A soft Brexit model would see the UK retaining some form of EU Single Market membership, though this would likely be in return for a degree of freedom of movement.

A government spokesperson said:

We are committed to getting the best possible deal as we leave the EU:one that is unique to Britain, not an ‘off the shelf’ solution.

It’s not about binary choices – there is a huge range of possibilities for our future trading relationship with the EU. That’s why the government is painstakingly analysing the challenges and opportunities for all the different sectors of our economy.

The prime minister has been clear that she wants UK companies to have the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the Single Market – and to let European businesses do the same here.

Beyond that, it’s not in the UK’s interest to give a running commentary on our thinking that could undermine our negotiating position.

“Encouraging” move

Dragon Advisory founding partner and member of the group Economists for Brexit, Charlie Methven, said the MPs’ call was “encouraging”, as “far from being an economic benefit, the Single Market is an old-fashioned protectionist Customs Area”.

“By exiting this sclerotic, old-fashioned protectionist block, the UK… can fulfil its economic potential,” Methven added.

Read more: London’s Brexit wish-list must include rules allowing migrants without jobs

Sterling has slid since Theresa May made it clear she would not prioritise Single Market access at the Conservative party conference. The government is aiming to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year.

Today, senior Tories – all of whom voted for Remain – urged May to scrap the government’s appeal on the Brexit High Court ruling that means MPs must vote on the UK leaving the EU.

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