politics

Brexiteer Steve Baker warns EU’s Barnier: ‘Make no mistake – we’re leaving on October 31’


And he warned he and his colleagues would never be able to sign Britain up to any agreement which included the much-maligned arrangements for the Irish border, underlining his belief it would leave the UK tethered to EU rules indefinitely. Mr Baker, a former junior Brexit minister who last July in protest at Prime Minister ’s Brexit strategy, stressed his belief Brexit was not a divorce but rather “a case of growing up and moving out”. The MP for Wycombe and deputy chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) outlined his plan for leaving the European Union in a policy document entitled A Clean Managed Brexit earlier this month.

The paper was launched in the presence of Brexit-backers including Jacob Rees-Mogg, , Iain Duncan Smith and Mark Francois.

During the course of the event, Mr Baker described Theresa May’s thrice-rejected withdrawal agreement as “dead, dead, dead”.

He also told the packed Commons committee room there should be no attempt to resurrect it.

And speaking at Portcullis House today, he told Express.co.uk he hoped the message would be heard loud and clear in Brussels – by Mr Barnier in particular.

He said: “ should be in no doubt whatsoever that we are going to leave the EU, with or without a withdrawal agreement, on October 31.”

Mr Baker said he hoped Mr Barnier, European Council President Donald Tusk and other leading figures within the bloc would recognise it was in their own interests to agree a wide-ranging free trade agreement which would give the UK latitude to negotiate other deals with non-EU countries.

He added: “I also hope they will believe us when we say we want to be good neighbours and good friends.

“I would also like them to know that many of us don’t see this as a divorce at all.

“We see it as growing up and moving out of your parents’ house and into a place next door.

“We want to be good friends and neighbours.

“Therefore I would ask them to act in their own best interests by quickly moving to secure our future trading relationship.”

Mr Baker was scathing with regard to the backstop, whereby Northern Ireland would stay aligned with EU rules and regulations if the EU deemed it necessary at the end of the proposed two-year transition period which would have kicked in had Mrs May’s been agreed.

Rejecting the idea that the backstop was simply an insurance policy, Mr Baker suggested it would rather leave Britain as an EU “satellite”.

He added: “We know the has been described as a bridge to a future relationship.

“But it would leave us with none of the benefits of trade with other nations and with all the disadvantages of membership of the EU.

“That’s why I couldn’t possibly have voted for the withdrawal agreement.”



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