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Grantham and Stamford MP issues challenge on Brexit

Nick Boles has challenged MPs unhappy with the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposals to come up with their own alternative.

The Grantham & Stamford MP took to Conservative Home website yesterday, to set out his own proposals, which appeared in the Grantham Journal last week.

Mr Boles accused the government of trying to “frighten” MPs if they voted down the Prime Minister’s plans and there was ‘no deal.’

But he said MPs would be right to be worried, due to the disruption Mr Boles says a ‘no deal’ Brexit would bring, as we are “woefully prepared” for such an outcome, despite having two years to prepare for it.

Calling for alternative proposals, the MP, who voted Remain in the 2016 Referendum, said: “In looking for a Plan B, we do not have the luxury of holding out for perfection. Now is not the time to be designing a brand new bespoke relationship.

“We need a plan that works, that is legally doable, and that fulfils a few basic conditions. Does it take us out of the EU on time at the end of March next year? Does it give British businesses the confidence to invest and grow? Does it put us in a strong position to negotiate an advantageous deal with our European friends?”

He continued: “Like most Conservatives, I believe that, in the long term, Britain should be pursuing a Canada-style free trade agreement rather than the half-in half-out pushmi-pullyu envisioned by the Chequers Agreement.

“David Davis has done us all a heroic service in preparing for such an agreement and I have complete confidence that, in time, such a deal can be done. But nobody, not even the most optimistic Brexiteer, believes that we can finalise and implement such an agreement in a matter of months.

“One way or another, we need an interim phase, a halfway house, a secure platform from which to negotiate without the pressure of an artificial deadline, or a gun against our heads.”

Despite previously supporting Theresa May’s Chequers proposals, Mr Boles says they would feature a 21-month period where “we effectively become a non-voting member of the EU – paying all the same charges, abiding by all the rules, but without a say in any of it.”

“In her interim, we will still be subject to the European Court of Justice, still be bound by freedom of movement, still be subject to the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy. “Run by Europe, but not in Europe”, one might say.

“The halfway house that I propose involves a much bigger immediate step out of the EU. By asserting our right to stay in the European Economic Area, applying to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as an associate member and negotiating an interim customs union like Jersey’s, we can retain all of the benefits of single market and customs union membership while escaping the clutches of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and the European Court of Justice (replacing the latter with the much less intrusive EFTA Court.) It would even give us some wiggle room on freedom of movement.”

He added that Leavers who believe such a situation could become permanent lacked confidence in themselves and they could insist such a move is temporary, say for three years.

Mr Boles concluded: “There’s a hard truth in politics. Ambition, passion and belief aren’t enough. If you want to get anywhere, you’ve got to have a plan. I’ve got one. It works, and will get us where we want to go. What’s yours?”


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