POLITICS
06/02/2018 19:51 GMT | Updated 06/02/2018 20:11 GMT

Fresh Brexit Row As Jacob Rees-Mogg Warns EU's 'Punishment Plan' Is Unacceptable

Brussels wants the power to impose sanctions without getting court approval

Jacob Rees-Mogg has issued another Brexit warning to Theresa May after claims the EU wants the power to issue instant punishments to the UK during any transition period.

The Guardian revealed tonight Brussels is looking to bypass the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if it believes the UK has breached EU law during the transition period.

Avoiding the lengthy ECJ process could see the UK hit with penalising trade tariffs, the introduction of lengthy customs checks at borders and even the grounding of European-bound flights from Britain in an instant.

Emerging from a meeting of Brexit-hardliners this evening, Rees-Mogg hit out at the plan, saying if the UK is forced to accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ during the transition period, the EU must also follow the Courts processes and rules.

“It’s not something we could accept,” said Rees-Mogg.

His warning comes less than a day before May is due to chair the first of two ‘Brexit War Cabinets’ with leading members of her Government.

The meetings, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, are expected to focus on the UK’s future customs arrangement with the EU. 

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Priti Patel was forced to resign as International Development Secretary by Theresa May last November.

Hard-line Brexiteers, such as Rees-Mogg and others in the European Research Group faction of Tory MPs, want a clean break from the customs union in order to allow the UK to strike trade deals with countries outside the EU.

May appeared to give into their demands over the weekend when a Downing Street source said: “It is not our policy to stay in a Customs Union.”

However, one of the preferred customs options put forward last summer by the Brexit department would see the UK mirroring the EU’s rules in certain areas.

Rees-Mogg refused to disclose what had been discussed in the meeting of the European Research Group (ERG), but described the atmosphere as “positive”.

Among the thirty or so MPs and Lords present were former Cabinet Ministers Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith, and Government whip Mark Spencer.  

The meeting of the hard-Brexiteers came just hours after former Business Minister Anna Soubry it was time Rees-Mogg and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were “slung” out of the Tory party.