‘We need to take back control’ Tories pile pressure on May to speed up exit from EU

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A former Cabinet minister urged the Prime Minister to accelerate the country’s departure from the bloc to maximise the economic boost of freedom from Brussels rule. And another senior MP tabled a Commons motion seeking to outlaw any backsliding on Mrs May’s pledge to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March.

The intensifying pressure followed yet another warning that European judges may intervene to block the activation of the exit clause. Mrs May told MPs of her determination to forge new trade links beyond the EU in the run-up to Brexit. “I want this country to be a global leader in free trade,” she said.

“We will not just look to forge new trade deals with other countries as we leave the EU but see how we can improve trade with other countries before we leave it, so that we will continue to strengthen our economy.”

But senior Tory backbenchers indicated a growing enthusiasm for accelerating the departure.

Former minister John Redwood said a swift Brexit would bring the maximum trade benefits. In a pamphlet for the think-tank Politeia, he wrote: “The EU leaders are urging Mrs May to speed up the UK’s plans for exit, and saying they want to get on with it. Let us agree with them! It is in the EU’s interest to sort this out quickly, and definitely in the UK’s interests.

“It need not be a difficult negotiation, we have no need to negotiate over our borders, our money or our laws with 27 other countries – we just need to take back control.”

Mr Redwood called for a radical package of tax cuts and increased public spending on road, rail and other infrastructure to help the UK “seize the opportunities” of freedom from Brussels.

“There is a good case for an early exit, an early legislation on borders and an early cancellation of our subscription to spend the money at home. Any changes the other states want to their trade arrangements with us could be debated after we have retaken control of all these other matters,” Mr Redwood said.

He called on the Government to hasten the departure by passing a law at Westminster repealing the 1972 legislation that confirmed the UK’s membership of the European bloc. Meanwhile, Tory backbencher Peter Bone tabled a Bill designed to compel Mrs May to keep her promise of triggering Article 50 no later than the end of March.

His proposed legislation said: “Her Majesty’s Government has a duty to notify the European Council by March 31, 2017, of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union.”

It comes ahead of a Supreme Court hearing next week into an earlier legal ruling banning Mrs May from triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval.

Meanwhile a senior British judge in the European Court of Justice – the EU’s highest legal body – claimed the Article 50 case could end up being decided there.

Eleanor Sharpston QC said: “If you join the club and you wish to leave the club, you leave in accordance with the rules when you join the club. The rules of this club are the ones contained in Article 50, and the interpretation of those rules is a matter for the court.”