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Tory Eurosceptics push for hard Brexit

Leading Conservative Eurosceptics have formed a new lobby group to push for a hard Brexit, including leaving the European single market and ending free movement.

The campaign, Leave means Leave, could provoke fresh unrest on the Tory backbenches for Theresa May, pushing her government to take a no compromise approach to negotiations with the EU.

Leading Tory MPs form the political advisory board, including those pushed out of government by May such as the former justice minister Dominic Raab. Others include the former environment secretary Owen Paterson, Sir Gerald Howarth, the former defence minister, and the outspoken Eurosceptic Peter Bone.

Tory Eurosceptics push for hard Brexit
Tory Eurosceptics push for hard Brexit

The property tycoon Richard Tice will chair the group, which has set up headquarters in Westminster. In a report published on Sunday it says Britain must “leave the world’s least successful economic zone – the single market”.

The group recommends that if no deal can be done the UK should leave the EU without a trade deal and rely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules while free trade deals are negotiated with other countries.

The Labour donor John Mills, who spearheaded the Labour Leave campaign, is listed as a supporter of the group.

Tice said: “On 23 June the British people made it clear that they wanted to leave the EU. There should be no compromise on this. The sooner we leave the more certainty and confidence for everyone. It should be a maximum of two years post serving article 50.

“Non-EU countries will know when we can sign trade deals and the EU will know we are serious. Also consumers and businesses can draw confidence that we are a globally focused strong economy. Let’s be clear: no deal is better than a bad deal.”

In its launch report, the group says remaining in the single market is the “‘no say, low growth, regulatory burden, sovereignty illusion’ option locking in perpetual trade deficits”.

The report warns that remaining in the single market “will continue to pull our political and economic focus towards the world’s least successful economic zone while tying us down with needless and expensive regulation for all businesses, even if they do not export”.

May has so far refused to reveal the government’s position on remaining in the single market, though the Brexit secretary, David Davis, told the House of Commons last week it was a “simple truth is that if a requirement of membership is giving up control of our borders, I think that makes it very improbable”.

A senior Downing Street official sought to distance May from the statement, saying: “He is setting out his view that [single market membership] is improbable.”

WTO rules would mean high tariffs on key British exports, including a 10% tariff on car exports, 12% on clothing and 40% on lamb.

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