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We are all Brexiteers now and heading for 'full Brexit', says Fallon

Published 09/10/2016

Ed Miliband is considering tabling an urgent Commons question demanding the Prime Minister sets out to parliament exactly what its role will be in the major decisions surrounding Brexit
Ed Miliband is considering tabling an urgent Commons question demanding the Prime Minister sets out to parliament exactly what its role will be in the major decisions surrounding Brexit

Britain is going for "full Brexit" outside the European Union but still wants to maintain good trade relations with the bloc, said Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.

Sir Michael also called for unity among Cabinet colleagues amid reports of deepening rifts among top Tories over the issue, with Sir Michael saying "we are all Brexiteers now".

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC, Sir Michael said: "This is Brexit. This is full Brexit, if you like.

"We're going to be outside the European Union but we still, because it's over 40% of our trade, we still want to maximise our trade with it.

"We are all Brexiteers now. We're respecting the decision of the British people and we've got to make a success of it."

Sir Michael said the Government's objectives in Brexit negotiations were to maximise free trade on goods and services, while regaining control of British borders.

He added that there must be co-operation on security, counter-terrorism and law enforcement.

Britain has been repeatedly warned that it must accept free movement of people if it wants to be a member of the European single market.

Education Secretary Justine Greening, meanwhile, has insisted any tensions in the Cabinet will not split the Tories.

The comments came as it emerged former Labour leader Ed Miliband has held talks with pro-EU Tory MPs on trying to force Theresa May to allow a Commons vote on any moves to exit the single market.

Ms Greening moved to downplay reports of splits at the senior level of Cabinet on what type of withdrawal deal to try to cut with the EU, with Chancellor Philip Hammond said to be at odds with "hard Brexiteers" David Davis and Liam Fox.

Asked on ITV's Peston On Sunday if the Cabinet would hold together on Brexit, Ms Greening said: "Yes, I think so. I think it's important our party has come together under the leadership of Theresa May to now steer our country through what will be historic months and years ahead. I think the Cabinet is united."

A loose cross-party alliance of pro-Europe MPs from all sides of the Commons has expressed concern at the sudden pace towards a "hard Brexit" stance by the Government.

Mr Miliband is considering tabling an urgent Commons question demanding the Prime Minister sets out to Parliament exactly what its role will be in the major decisions surrounding Brexit.

The former Labour leader, and ex-Liberal Democrat head Nick Clegg, have formed common ground with the SNP, the Greens and some Tories to seek a strong voice for the Commons in the Brexit process.

The grouping believes that while Britain narrowly voted to leave the EU, it did not vote to leave the single market.

It comes as former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said it was "pretty clear" Britain would be leaving the single market, given recent rhetoric from ministers.

Speaking on BBC One's Sunday Politics programme, Mr Duncan Smith said migration from the EU had caused "a great deal of damage to workers and their incomes" among lower skilled workers.

However, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said this would be "a massive mistake" and risked tens of thousands of jobs.

Mr Farron added: "I think Iain is wrong to say that there's been a massive decision in favour of us leaving the single market, if that's what he's implying.

"A small majority voted to leave the EU, but nobody voted to leave the common or single market."

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan said a "sizeable" number of Tory MPs support her push for a "soft Brexit" with the closest possible ties to the EU after withdrawal, and a Commons vote on the issues involved.

Ms Morgan warned that it would be "extraordinary" given the prominence of the issue of sovereignty in the referendum campaign for Parliament, not to have a "big role" in the Brexit negotiations as they unfold.

Asked about cross-party efforts to push for more parliamentary control of the process, Ms Morgan told Sky News: "Yes, I think there will be common cause between those us of who want there to be the right Brexit, the right mechanism for leaving the EU.

"The other thing is that the Conservative Party manifesto, on which we were elected only 17 months ago, has a very clear statement in it about 'we say yes to the single market', and it talks about 'we will safeguard British interests in the single market'.

"And that is something that the Government cannot ignore. We stood on a manifesto saying that. We have to make sure that we do not throw away access to the single market just because that means talking about free movement of labour."

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