Tory MP Anna Soubry believes pushing for a hard Brexit is “bonkers” and says pro-Leavers who feel Britain should go down this route are in denial.
Soubry, who spoke to Business Insider at the Conservative conference in Birmingham on Monday, was a passionate supporter of the Remain campaign and has lambasted Tory Brexiteers since the June referendum.
The MP for Broxtowe was in fine form when she spoke to BI, describing the idea that Britain could leave the single market and arrange a better trade deal as “stuff of the fairies”.
“I am beginning to wonder whether some of the people in charge of Leave actually understand the value of the single market,” she told us.
“The idea that we will leave the EU and then negotiate some excellent free trade deal with the rest of Europe and not take the free movement of labour is the stuff of the fairies.”
“The idea that we will leave the EU and then negotiate some excellent, free trade deal with the rest of Europe and not take the free movement of labour is the stuff of the fairies.”
“I think we need one big reality check.”
She added: “Phillip Hammond, who I think will be an excellent chancellor, warned of the choppy waters which await us as we leave the EU. He brought in a dose of reality.
“People say they want free trade — why on Earth do you want to leave the single market then?”
EU Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker and the EU Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt have both said Britain will not be allowed to retain access to the single market and pull out of the free movement of people.
Yet, despite this very clear position, government ministers like Boris Johnson insist that Britain will be able to secure a cherry-picked deal. The Foreign Secretary described the idea of the EU’s “four freedoms” being inseparable as “baloney” last week.
“For some of these guys, bar Boris [Johnson] — I don’t think Boris has ever been for leaving — this is very much what they have believed in for decades,” Soubry said. “So, it’s tough after years of saying ‘this is great, this will happen’, to suddenly be faced with the reality that they got it horribly wrong.”
“We do not hold the cards in this. The EU is not going to offer us something better than what we’ve got.
“Imagine if you belonged to a golf club, and you were to say ‘I’m leaving but I’d like to still play at your golf club for free with none of your rules’ — it’s bonkers. They’re in denial.”
Last week, Soubry told the Guardian that she was “worried” by the thought of Johnson, David Davis, and Liam Fox heading the government’s three Brexit ministries.
When we asked her if she was still worried, she said: “We’ve got Hammond there and Theresa May as a prime minister. May is the voice of sanity and Hammond is the voice of experience and realism.”
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