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Frustration grows among East Anglian MPs as a hard Brexit looms

PUBLISHED: 11:58 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 16 November 2018

East Anglia's MPs fear we are heading for no agreement with the EU - against their wishes. Picture: PA

East Anglia's MPs fear we are heading for no agreement with the EU - against their wishes. Picture: PA

While speculation continues to swirl around the Prime Minister and the future of Britain’s relations with the EU post-Brexit many of the region’s Tory MPs and party members are expressing frustration at the extreme-Brexiteers in their party.

Privately they believe that leading member’s of the party’s European Reform Group like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson had decided in advance that they would be opposed to whatever deal was proposed by the Prime Minister.

Several told me they weren’t prepared to comment until they had read the most important sections of the 585-page document – and more than one questioned how the arch-Brexiteers had come to the conclusion it was such a bad deal before it was even published!

All of Suffolk’s Tory MPs urged their voters to back remain in the 2016 referendum. Since then all six who retained their seats in 2017’s general election have accepted the vote and have backed the government’s attempts to negotiate an acceptable deal.

In north Essex most MPs voted leave – but even here I detected some frustration towards those who rushed to judgement on the issue.

It was telling that Colchester MP Will Quince, who said backed leave “on balance”, did not want to comment on the deal itself because he hadn’t read the entire document. He felt that after all the effort that had gone into to, the authors deserved to have it read before being criticised for its contents.

Witham MP Priti Patel, who is a well-known Brexit supporter, waited until she had read the document and taken legal advice before dissecting it in a long statement – and avoided making a personal attack on the Prime Minister, unlike many of her colleagues.

One thing all MPs seem agreed on is that it will be very difficult to get this deal – or any deal for that matter – through the House of Commons.

Labour certainly doesn’t want to help the government – it wants to force a general election. But that’s not really likely to solve anything – there is nothing to suggest that any new election in early 2019 would be any more decisive than the election we had in 2017.

If there is no agreement, the default position now is that Britain will leave the EU on March 29 with no agreement – the country will “crash out.” Only a tiny minority of hard-line Brexiteers seem to really want that – but other politicians are not prepared to work together to avoid it.

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