Owen Paterson calls on the PM to prepare for no deal if Brexit talks don’t progress by March
Writing exclusively for the Daily Express online, the former cabinet minister who sits on the board of leading Brexit group of Leave Means Leave has told the Prime Minister that enough concessions have been made to the EU and the Prime Minister must not be taken in by “Remoaner double talk.”
The tough line from the Brexit group which includes more than 50 Tory MPs, has come as Remainers have seized on reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis has suggested that ending Brussels rule could be stopped.
The message comes as Mrs May has said in her new year message that the next 12 months will allow Britons to feel “renewed confidence and pride” as the country makes progress on Brexit and creating a “stronger and fairer” society.
Ministers and Eurocrats have said that a deal needs to be completed by October, but Brexiteers fear a delay could force Britain to accept a bad deal that leads to “Brexit in name only”.
As she contemplates her New Year’s resolutions, I suggest she gives the EU until March to agree heads of terms, and – if they spurn her friendly advances again – plans seriously for the WTO outcome to give business and our administrators the certain
And while the Prime Minister hailed the progress made in 2017 on the Brexit negotiations, Mr Paterson, a former Northern Ireland and Environment Secretary, warned Mrs May that she needs to take a strong stand in the second half of the talks on issues such as trade and security.
He wrote: “It has been clear from the outset that a reciprocal free-trade agreement with zero tariffs is in all our best interests.
“But if the EU will not agree heads of terms by March next year or if the price — either financially or in concessions of sovereignty — is too high, then we should politely advise them that our trade will continue on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms, maintaining such reciprocal sectoral arrangements as mutual aviation landing rights.”
Economists for Free Trade led by Professor Patrick Minford have estimated that the UK’s GDP could grow by £135 billion a year simply by ending Brussels rule and going on to WTO rules which govern Britain’s trade with the rest of the world.
If negotiations go poorly, the PM should walk away says Paterson
Quoting the research Mr Paterson pointed out that by leaving the EU without a formal deal the cost of food per household could fall by £305 a year.
The former environment secretary added: “By 2025, they predict that three per cent growth will give the Government an additional dividend of £65 billion per annum to spend on public services and/or tax cuts.
“The famous £350 million per week for the NHS (£18.2 billion per year) will be easy to achieve, along with money to support our farmers.”
After Tory Remainer MPs and peers joined with Labour, the Lib Dems and SNP to try to scupper Brexit in 2017, Mr Paterson urged: “Don’t be taken in by the double-talk of the Remoaners.
“Brexit means taking back control of our laws, money and borders. This same message was central to the Prime Minister’s speech at Lancaster House in January, in which she confirmed that we would be leaving the single market and the customs union.”
Owen Paterson fears ‘Brexit in name only’
His article comes amid concerns in the divorce settlement that the UK will seek full “regulatory alignment” to solve the problem of the Irish land border with Northern Ireland.
This could undermine Britain seizing the benefits of Brexit as a world centre for promoting free trade and cutting the costs of regulations and EU red tape.
Other parts of the agreement will see Britain pay up to £39 billion as a divorce bill and allowing the European Court of Justice to make judgements on EU citizen rights in the first eight years after Brexit.
Brexiteers are also concerned about a two year transition deal which could keep Britain tied to EU rules including free movement allowing uncontrolled immigration.
With Brussels already trying to hard ball on financial services and other key trade issues, Mr Paterson has told Mrs May that she must not make more concessions.
Research shows going back to trading under WTO rules would be great for the UK
He pointed out that the EU only represents 12 per cent of British GDP and less than 50 per cent of UK exports while Britain also has a trade deficit with Europe of more than £70 billion.
Warning against Remainer attempts to keep Britain under Brussels control in the EU’s single market and protectionist customs union, he said: “Outside the single market and customs union, we will be best placed to exploit the opportunities to be found in the fastest growing parts of the world (all outside the EU).
“Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States and others will be watching the negotiations closely, knowing that they will only be able to do deals with an independent United Kingdom in full control of our own laws.”
Mr Paterson added: “Mrs May has been very generous to the EU so far, but she does not need to make further concessions.
“As she contemplates her New Year’s resolutions, I suggest she gives the EU until March to agree heads of terms, and – if they spurn her friendly advances again – plans seriously for the WTO outcome to give business and our administrators the certainty and time to prepare which they need.”