Janice Atkinson, Independent MEP for the South East of England, has won the support of the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (ENF) in the European Parliament for her calls for Brussels negotiators to reject Theresa May’s Chequers plan for Brexit.
Instead Janice and the ENP, of which she is vice-president, want the EU to offer the UK a Free Trade Agreement which which does not make open borders a precondition to free trade. This, says the ENF – the only cohesive group on Brexit in the EU Parliament – would benefit both the UK and the other 27 European states.
The call from Janice and the ENF, on the day Theresa May addresses EU heads of state in Salzburg, carries particular weight because the ruling parties of Austria and Italy are members of the ENF.
Janice said: “My partners in the Europe of Nations and Freedom group are fully behind chucking Chequers. It is an unworkable plan which will deliver nothing either for the EU or for a UK government supposedly committed to the peoples’ mandate for Brexit.
‘Unlike the other EU political groups, the ENF is a group of friends, not just a political alignment of convenience. Our group and our way of thinking is sweeping Europe. Common sense is now prevailing in the ruling coalitions in Austria and Italy and we believe other nations will follow.”
In its own statement today, the ENF Group points out that the Irish border has never been anything more than an EU bargaining tool. Technological solutions, they say, are available to resolve the issues of trade between the EU and a post-Brexit UK.
The ENF also demands that there is no extension to a the two-year transition period. Any such extension, it says, would undermine the national UK citizens in a vote on the sovereignty of the nation.
Janice added: “Whatever the final agreement, it must and will be the case that the EU, its member states and the UK will maintain close relationships both politically and economically.”