Indian-origin MP calls on Theresa May to be less defensive on Brexit
Indian-origin MP Priti Patel, one of the most outspoken British politicians in favour of Brexit, Monday called on Prime Minister Theresa May to be less defensive in her strategy for the UK's exit from the European Union.
The former UK Cabinet member and senior Conservative party leader spoke out as Britain's ruling party is holding its annual party conference in Birmingham, where Brexit has been dominating the agenda.
Patel, often referred to by the media as one of the contenders for the top job as British PM, said Prime Minister May's so-called Chequers strategy to strike a Brexit deal was not good enough and that alternatives were required after it had been ruled out as "unworkable" at a European Union (EU) summit in Salzburg last month.
"Theresa May has a good opportunity, post-Salzburg, not to be so defensive about Chequers but look at different ideas and approaches around advanced free trade arrangements," she said.
"However it is packaged up, Chequers is not the referendum mandate. It is not going to give us our freedom, our democracy. Chequers will make us rule-takers. It will mean we won't control our laws, and we won't have democratic control," said Patel, who has previously served as international development secretary in May's Cabinet.
The MP for Witham in Essex, who had campaigned vehemently in favour of a Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum, said the Chequers strategy in favour of a common rulebook approach with the EU on trade limits Britain's freedom to have an independent trade policy that would allow it to "stand tall in the world".
"Although we won the referendum, we have yet to win Brexit... Too many people who are supposed to be on the negotiating side lack belief in our country. But we stand on the side of the British public, on the side of freedom and democracy, as we stand up for Brexit," Patel said.
During her fiery speech at the conference, the Tory MP also attacked the EU for its "unreasonable" stance in the negotiations.
"We must say no to their bullying and no to their unreasonable demands, and no to the 40 billion pound divorce settlement. Over the next six months, we must prepare our country for all eventualities," she said.
Patel also lashed out at the Opposition Labour party, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, for "talking down to British public" in trying to overturn the referendum result by calling for second vote.
"Some call it the People's Vote. But in practice, it's a second referendum," she said.
Brexit has dominated the Tory party conference, which is set to conclude on Wednesday with May's keynote address expected to set the course for future talks with the EU.
While she has maintained her Chequers plan is the only one on the table, Brexiteers feel it keeps the UK far too close to Brussels and does not fulfil the Leave campaign's promise during the 2016 referendum campaign to "take back control".
EU leaders have rejected the plan because they believe it would undermine the single market principles of the economic bloc by allowing the UK to "cherry pick" from EU law.
The British PM has repeatedly said that it is now up to the EU to come up with viable alternatives as the March 29, 2019, deadline for Britain's formal exit nears.
The UK government has said it will not agree to anything that divides Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The Conservative party's MPs are deeply divided over the issue, with critics such as former foreign secretary Boris Johnson openly attacking Theresa May while others like UK Chancellor Philip Hammond speaking out in her favour.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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