Brexit: Hardline Tories to back Boris Johnson's agreement to pave way for no-deal exit next year, one reveals

John Baron accused of 'letting the cat out of the bag' - 24 hours before crunch vote

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 18 October 2019 15:52 BST
John Baron says Brexiteers back Brexit deal because it will allow crash-out next year

Hardline Brexit-backing Tory MPs will vote for Boris Johnson’s deal because it paves the way for crashing out of the EU with no agreement next year, one has revealed.

John Baron was accused of “letting the cat out of the bag” after describing the strategy as the reason why the new deal is “a fundamental improvement” on Theresa May’s doomed text.

The risk of a no-deal Brexit would only be delayed, not removed, because of Boris Johnson’s insistence that the transition period will must end in December 2020 – little more than a year away.

Experts believe there is little chance of negotiating a permanent deal with the EU by then – which would mean the UK losing its trading and security ties with the bloc.

Peter Ricketts, a former top diplomat and head of the foreign office, said: “A revealing piece of candour from Mr Baron.

“Haven’t noticed ministers saying this to the public, who would suffer the consequences of a no-deal crash contrived behind their backs.”

And Guto Bebb, a former Conservative expelled from the party for blocking a no-deal Brexit, said: “John Baron has let the cat out of the bag.

“He admits that he and many of his fellow ideologues in the extremist Conservative faction of the ERG are supporting Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals only because they see it as the fastest way to fulfil their no-deal fantasies.”

It is understood that members of the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers are seeking legal advice from the attorney general to bolster Mr Baron’s argument.

It would mean Britain switching by default to skeleton world trade organisation trading terms – triggering a recession, the Treasury’s own advisers predicted.

Mr Baron told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme why “Spartans who, like me, voted three times against Theresa May’s deal” viewed Mr Johnson’s deal “in a favourable light”.

“If those trade talks are not successful up to December 2020, that’s how long they could take, then we could leave on no-deal terms.”

The MP said he had been given “that clear assurance” by Michael Gove and Dominic Raab and was “hoping to get it from the prime minister” himself.

“As long as we can get that assurance, and I think we have done, then we’ll be supporting the deal tomorrow,” he added.

The new divorce deal retains the clause from its rejected predecessor allowing an extension to the transition period until December 2022.

It would need to be triggered by 1 July next year, underlining how the Brexit deal passing tomorrow – if it does – would only be the start of a fresh saga.

The result of the vote itself remained on a knife-edge, with No 10 buoyed by winning over some Labour rebels while whittling down opposition in its own ranks.

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