SCORES of Tory MPs are pressing Theresa May not to stay in the EU through the backdoor by remaining in the Single Market after we leave.
In a move which will further split the Conservative party, a group argues that continuing as a part of it during any transitional period would be a "historic mistake".
A letter seen by The Times and the BBC said that almost 40 hard Brexiteers from the European Research Group are fuming with attempts to water down our EU exit, as talks in Brussels continue to stall.
But this approach is unlikely to go down well in the EU, and will make gaining access to the Single Market when we leave difficult.
The news comes on the same day MPs begin debating the EU Withdrawal Bill in the Commons today, with a fierce debate about sweeping new powers to be given in order to do that.
Today's letter from the right of the Conservative party demands that:
It argues that continued membership of the single market, even temporarily, would mean being "kept in the EU by stealth".
And that staying in would mean paying into the EU budget for years to come, and being unable to take advantages of the freedoms that leaving would bring.
It calls on the Government to "respect the will of the British people" and leave the Single Market for good come March 2019.
"In short, when we leave in 2019 – we need to make sure we are well and truly out," the letter says.
Ministers have said that we will need a temporary deal for Britain while we work out the long-term solutions, but have yet to say how long it should be or what it should look like.
The letter in full
“Continued membership of the Single Market, even as part of a transitional arrangement, would quite simply mean EU membership by another name – and we cannot allow our country to be kept in the EU by stealth. The Government must respect the will of the British people, and that means leaving the Single Market at the same time as we leave the EU. Here’s why:
“Continued membership of the ‘Single Market’ (the ‘Norway option’) — the stated goal of the Labour Party — would be an historic mistake. The truth is that the ‘Single Market’ is a political project, and requires its members to constantly introduce new EU laws. Therefore, the longer one remains a member the harder it is to leave. Contrary to claims that it is a ‘sensible’ stepping stone to independence, it is in fact a conveyer belt to ever more European integration. What’s more, for as long as we remain in the Single Market, we will have to make payments into the EU budget, and will be unable to take advantage of the freedoms available as a result of leaving the EU — such as the ability to deport foreign criminals.
“In order to ensure that no one seeks to use a transition period as means of keeping the UK in the EU by stealth, the Government must add the following clauses to any transitional deal: There must be a clearly defined timetable for this country’s departure from the Single Market and Customs Union. Any deal should also reserve the right for the UK Government to unilaterally withdraw from the deal via domestic legislation: we need to be sure that our own Government is in charge of the deal — not the EU — and that the deal won’t become permanent.
“We need to make sure the UK is not forced onto a conveyer belt of EU regulation: The European Communities Act 1972 must be repealed, in full, on exit day. Likewise, on exit day, we must ensure we are exempted from Article 3 TFEU. There can be no Henry VIII laws which automatically add EU/EEA laws onto our statute books, and we must be free to negotiate and sign trade deals during the transition period. Finally, the UK must have the power to take back control of key parts of its immigration system. In short, when we leave in 2019 – we need to make sure we are well and truly out.
“With these clauses in place the will of the British people will have been respected and the country set on a course to make a great success of Brexit.”