Tories relaunch 90s Eurosceptic group to hold Rishi Sunak to account on Brexit

Rishi Sunak - Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Rishi Sunak - Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Senior Tories vowed to hold Rishi Sunak’s feet to the fire over Brexit at the relaunch of a Eurosceptic campaign group on Tuesday night.

Sir Bill Cash, a veteran backbencher, has revived the European Foundation, which was originally set up to support the Maastricht rebellion.

He said it would focus on “protecting our sovereignty” while also “repelling the Remainers”, who are arguing for Britain to now rejoin the EU.

“There is no doubt they’re on the march. We can outflank them on all the arguments whether economic, political, constitutional or in Parliament,” he said.

'Job is far from done'

At a launch in Westminster, top Tory MPs urged the Prime Minister to slash red tape and taxes and stand firm on Northern Ireland.

Sir John Redwood, the former Cabinet minister, said that “the job is far from done” and that Eurosceptics have “a lot to prove” to the public.

“I’m delighted that we have now got our Brexit, but I have news for the Government - it wasn’t just a theoretical idea,” he told the event.

“I’m proud of the fact we can now make the laws we want to without interference and our Parliament alone can now impose the taxes and spend the money.

“But I’m not proud of the fact that Parliament still won’t use the powers. Wake up Parliament, get on with it Government.

“We need to reverse the European laws that were wrong, we need to improve the European laws that we need but could be better.”

Sir John said the Prime Minister should “end all the contributions to the EU as quickly as possible” and use the savings to fund tax cuts.

‘Northern Ireland is the booby trap’

David Jones, a former Brexit minister, said MPs should “consider abolishing” the House of Lords if it tries to obstruct legislation to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He urged European Foundation members to “put as much pressure as possible” on the Government not to soften its stance in return for a quick deal with the EU.

“Northern Ireland is the booby trap that the EU left behind when they ultimately acknowledged that we wanted to go,” he said.

“We must make sure the Government understands that we will not accept anything less than the full restoration of Northern Ireland as part of a sovereign UK.

“The revolution is not yet complete, and I believe it is the duty of everybody in this room to complete that revolution.”

Theresa Villiers, a former Northern Ireland secretary, said the Prime Minister should press the EU to accept a technological solution to the Irish border.

Jonathan Gullis, a former education minister, insisted that the group must also up the pressure on Mr Sunak to stop the small boat crossings.

He urged the Prime Minister to consider leaving the European Convention on Human Rights if necessary to curb illegal immigration.

“It has become simply unacceptable that 44,000 people have entered this country illegally from mainland France when there’s absolutely no need,” he said.

“You have a French government that’s seemingly turning a blind eye, no matter how much money we seem to send in their direction, and quite simply it’s not good enough.

“Any legislation brought before the House should say that where and when necessary we will derogate from ECHR rulings and if the ECHR don’t like it, we will have on the table that we will leave the ECHR come what may.

“People want us to deliver. If we don’t deliver then they’ll show us the exit door, so it’s up to this government to put the ECHR on the table.”

The launch event was attended by several other senior Tory MPs, including Sir Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Sir Edward Leigh and Richard Drax.