SENIOR Brexiteer Owen Paterson has warned Theresa May that heads of terms for a new free trade deal with the EU need to be agreed by March or Britain should quit talks and prepare for no deal.
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”.
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.
To read the Daily Express’s report in full, click here.