All I want is the best Brexit deal for UK - Owen Paterson MP
Brexiteer and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson today insisted it is not the prime minister that should change but her plans over leaving the EU.
Mr Paterson is one of those behind the European Research Group’s alternative paper to the Theresa May’s Chequers plan, which sets out what he called common sense solutions.
The move has been seen by many as a bid to out Mrs May from the top job in the government.
But today Mr Paterson said that was not the intention.
“This is not about personalities,” he said. “I am not calling for the prime minster to stand down. This is about policies.
“Chequers is wrong – it is unworkable. In the course of writing this paper we have talked to people of long experience. We have talked to people in the freight industry, people in business and people in finance and security.
“It is unbelievable that so close to Brexit, we have not yet resolved the issue of VAT.
“For all companies, the requirements for additional declarations can be incorporated into the existing system used for VAT returns. Licensed customs brokers can be engaged to support businesses in dealing with rules of origin and customs arrangements.
“The proposals described can all be realised within the existing legal and operational frameworks of the EU and the UK, based on the mutual trust on which regular trade depends. At the same time, this allows the United Kingdom to conduct an independent trade policy without threatening the integrity of the EU single market.”
“What we want is for the Prime Minister to deliver the manifesto and leave it exactly as she promised at Lancaster House.”
The European Research Group’s paper looks in detail at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Paterson, former Northern Ireland secretary, today reiterated his insistence that a common sense solution can be found.
He reiterated comments by the group chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg that the publication of the report was intended as a positive contribution to the debate – not a political snipe at Mrs May.
He said : “The EU has insisted that the supposed problem is ‘intractable’ because the only way to protect the integrity of the EU single market is to institute a ‘hard’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or a border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
“Neither of these proposals is acceptable but, thankfully, neither is necessary. With such little time remaining, the negotiators must now take a realistic view of existing technical and administrative measures to handle the procedures for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There is already a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for tax, VAT, currency, excise and security.
“These are currently managed with technical and administrative procedures without infrastructure at the physical border.The current smooth movement of agricultural products across the Irish border – without the need for border inspection posts – can be continued by maintaining the island of Ireland as a common biosecurity zone and this is not contentious.”
While pressure mounted on Mrs May over Brexit, the SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart dismissed Mr Paterson and other supporters of Jacob Rees-Mogg as ‘Mogg-ites'.
Mr Wishart urged the Prime Minister to appear before MPs to concede her Chequers plan is ‘dead’, amid fresh warnings it has no chance of securing approval from the Commons.
He claimed ‘Mogg-ites’ now “control large swathes of the party” while the upcoming party conference will “almost certainly put paid” to the Brexit plan.
He went on: “So wouldn’t it be good to just get this out the way, there’s no way it’s going to get through this House.”