Theresa May has been urged to grasp a “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” Canada style trade deal with the European Union by leading Tory Brexiteers.
The call came from Jacob Rees-Mogg at the launch event for a new Brexit blueprint by the free market Institute of Economic Affairs think tank (IEA).
The charity is calling on ministers to seek a “basic” free trade agreement for goods and pursue “regulatory freedom and trade independence”.
Mr Rees-Mogg, who leads the powerful Tory backbench European Research Group (ERG), said: “So much of what hear about these negotiations has been about managing decline, has been about how you have the least bad Brexit, this is about how you can have a fantastic Brexit that sets us up for the next generation and ensures our prosperity.
“This has been offered to us by the Commission, they have offered us the best trade deal they have ever done with any country ever in the world, so if you want to call it Canada plus, or super Canada or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Canada, that is what is being aimed and its being offered.”
Mr Rees-Mogg also hit out at those seeking a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, he said: “I’m afraid the Remainers who want another referendum hold democracy in contempt, they lost and they should grow up.”
The IEA’s launch, which was also attended by former Brexit secretary David Davis, saw proposals for a “Plan A+” deal with the EU which would see full reciprocal market access, no tariffs in goods including agriculture and maximum recognition of regulatory standards.
Mr Davis, just hours before Mrs May was due to meet Cabinet colleagues to discuss the Government’s Brexit policy, said it was time to “reset negotiations”.
He said: “We’re currently, bluntly, in a cul-de-sac, I’m afraid Salzburg was all too predictable.
“Now what we need to do is to use the original commitments made back on March 7 by both Tusk and Barnier to go for an advanced free trade agreement.”
He later added: “My last instruction, virtually, to my department was draft the legal text for the free trade plus arrangement so that you’ve got it to work from.
“If you’ve got that to work from the time spinning, time wasting activity of the European Commission which we’ve seen lots of over the last two years fail.”
Former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, who was also on the panel at the IEA launch, said that she believed proposals put forward by the ERG on the Irish border issue “can unlock negotiations”.
The ERG proposals, released earlier this month, set out that the border issue could be solved using electronic customs declarations, “trusted trader” status for big business and exemptions for small businesses.
Ms Villiers, speaking in support of those proposals, said: “The Irish border has been the blockage which has caused progress towards a proper exit free trade agreement to stall, this is the key reason behind the proposal ion the Chequers plan.
“So, if we can find a way to maintain the drive through border we have on the island of Ireland, but within the context of a trade deal, we can unlock the negotiations and put them back on track to a Canada plus type arrangement.”
The IEA event came just hours before Mrs May was due to meet senior ministers in a bid to save her Chequers blueprint for Brexit.
There is likely to be a lengthy inquest into what went wrong at last week’s informal EU summit in Salzburg where Mrs May was bluntly told key elements of the Chequers plan would not work.
The Prime Minister insists her proposal, which would see Britain maintain a “common rulebook” with the EU for trade in goods and agriculture, is the only credible option on the table which would avoid the return of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Mrs May’s spokesman ruled out moving towards a Canada style deal, saying: “Given a standard free trade agreement could not prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, the EU’s position is that their proposed Northern Ireland protocol would come into effect.
“So, the FTA would only apply to the Great Britain-EU relationship, with Northern Ireland effectively remaining in parts of the single market and customs union.
“The PM has repeatedly set out that we must protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom as a whole.”
Downing Street said Mrs May told Cabinet to hold its nerve in the wake of Salzburg.
The PM said it was always clear there would come a critical point in the negotiations, adding: “Now is the time to hold our nerve.”
Mrs May said the Government’s White Paper remains the only plan on the table which achieves the goals of frictionless trade and an open border in Ireland.
She said she remained confident of securing a deal with the EU, but the Government would continue to sensibly plan for no deal.
Mrs May said the UK was looking to the EU to match her promise that expat citizens’ rights will be protected in the case of a no-deal Brexit.