Brexit supporters list demands for ‘divorce bill’ talks

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Theresa May and Jean-Claude JunckerImage copyright
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Theresa May will hold talks with Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday

Leading Brexit supporters have urged the prime minister not to settle the UK’s “divorce bill” unless the EU agrees to a series of conditions.

The demands of the Leave Means Leave group include ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice the moment the UK leaves the EU in 2019.

It comes with talks at a key point ahead of a key summit later this month.

Meanwhile a minister suggested Brexit might not happen at all unless Theresa May is backed in the negotiations.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV: “The choice we face now is not between this Brexit and that Brexit; if we don’t back Theresa May we will have no Brexit – and she is doing an unbelievably challenging job amazingly well.”

Mrs May is due to travel to Brussels on Monday for talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, hoping the EU will agree that “sufficient progress” has been made so far to begin trade talks.

Leave Means Leave, which campaigns for “a clean Brexit”, wrote an open letter to the PM setting out certain conditions the EU should agree to before the UK makes further financial commitments.

What’s holding things up?

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The amount of money the UK will pay as part of Brexit has been one of the main sticking points so far

The talks so far have focused on what happens to citizens’ rights after Brexit, the amount of money the UK will pay, and the future of the Irish border.

On the “divorce bill”, the UK is understood to have recently increased its offer, which could be worth up to 50bn euros (£44bn).

There has also been lots of focus on the Ireland question in recent weeks, with the Irish government seeking more information on the “frictionless border” the UK wants to establish so customs checks are not needed.

The EU will only move on to talk about future issues like trade when “sufficient progress” has been made on these subjects – and is due to decide whether this has happened at a summit on 14 and 15 December.

What is Leave Means Leave?

The campaign group describes itself as the “campaign for a clean Brexit”.

Signatories of its letter to the prime minister include former Tory cabinet ministers Owen Paterson, John Redwood and Lord Lawson and ex-Brexit minister David Jones.

Backbench MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative) and Labour’s Graham Stringer have signed it, as have several economists and business leaders.

Former Conservative leader Lord Howard – who hasn’t signed the letter – told the BBC’s Sunday Politics he shared the “aspirations” it contains.

What they want

The letter says the EU has not matched the “patience and goodwill” Theresa May has shown so far, and says the UK should make no “further financial commitment” until it agrees to certain conditions.

From March 2019, they say:

  • There should be an “in principle” agreement for a free trade deal to be in place
  • The current free movement of EU citizens into the UK should end
  • No new EU regulations should apply in the UK
  • The European Court of Justice should “cease to have any jurisdiction whatsoever” in the UK

The UK should be prepared to revert to World Trade Organisation terms if a future free trade agreement with the EU is not secured, they add.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Rees-Mogg said if the UK remains subject to European court rulings after March 2019 “we will have stayed in the European Union”.

What the government says

Theresa May has promised that Brexit will end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.

But she has suggested its remit might continue during an “implementation period” after March 2019, which would not satisfy the Leave Means Leave demands.

On immigration, ministers have said free movement must end with the UK’s EU membership but have promised businesses a “cliff edge” will be avoided in terms of employing foreign workers.

Meanwhile, there have been more warnings on the subject of the EU court from former Court of Appeal judge Sir Richard Aitkens and ex-Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Sir Richard, the president of the Lawyers for Britain group, has written to Mrs May saying that giving the ECJ the exclusive jurisdiction over EU citizens’ rights would be “tantamount to reversing the result of the 2016 referendum”.

In a separate article in the Telegraph, Mr Duncan Smith warns the plan would be “quite unacceptable” as it would put the UK in the position of “ceding power to a foreign court”.

Source by BBC

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