A group of 19 Tory MPs have written to Theresa May to condemn “highly irresponsible” Brexit-backing colleagues who “seek to dictate terms” which could lead to Britain leaving the European Union with no deal.
They said those who suggest leaving the EU without an exit or trade deal with the UK “deliberately” miss warnings of the uncertainty expats would face, higher prices for consumers and disruption at the border.
Among the signatories to the letter were former cabinet ministers Nicky Morgan, Dominic Grieve and Stephen Crabb, as well as select committee chairs Sarah Wollaston and Bob Neill.
Their intervention comes with the Prime Minister racing against time to find a solution to a row over maintaining a soft Irish border that satisfies the EU, including Ireland, and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up her Government.
Failure to do so would see the year passing with Brexit negotiations bogged down in their first phase with no discussion on trade, and could lead to growing calls for the Government to walk away from talks.
The MPs said they supported Ms May’s “hard work” on achieving progress on withdrawal issues – the divorce bill, citizens’ rights and the Irish border – to get the green light for trade talks.
But they went on: “We also wish to make it clear that we are disappointed that, yet again, some MPs and others seek to impose their own conditions on these negotiations.
“In particular it is highly irresponsible to seek to dictate terms which could lead to the UK walking away from these negotiations.
“Those who say that if such an outcome happens the UK will ‘revert to World Trade Organisation’ rules deliberately make it sound as if this is some status quo which the UK simply opts to adopt.
“They miss the many business and other voices who have made it clear that a ‘no deal’ post March 2019 scenario would lead to great uncertainty for EU citizens living here and UK citizens living in the EU, higher costs and reduced choice for consumers, disruption at our ports and borders and grave questions about how cross-border contracts are to be fulfilled.
“The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU has said that the Article 50 negotiations are the most important in the UK’s modern history.
“We agree and urge you to take whatever time is necessary to get the next stage of the UK’s relationship with the EU right.”