Speaking to the Future Relationship with the European Union Committee Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone greeted chairman of the Committee Hilary Benn with “Happy independence day”. The staunch pro-Brexit MP mocked the Labour MP as Britons celebrate four years since their vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Mr Bone said: “Good Morning Chairman and happy independence day to you and to the rest of the Committee. I say that to start with because it’s now been four years since we voted to leave the European Union so it can hardly come as a surprise to industry or people involved in customs that we’re leaving!”
The Tory MP was not the only one to make reference to the June 2016 Brexit referendum today.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage also greeted his supporters with “Happy independence day” as he posted a video on his social media platform.
Mr Farage used the opportunity to send a stern warning to Boris Johnson as he claimed the Prime Minister would pay “a massive price” should he fail to deliver on his Brexit promises at the end of this year.
He said: “The 23rd of June 2016 is certainly indelibly printed in my memory.
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“It was for me, of course, the end of 25 years of struggle. Struggle against the establishment, struggle against the odds. And I have to admit, when 10 o’clock came that night, even though I dared to dream it for such a long time, I almost couldn’t believe it could possibly happen.
“And then the Sunderland results came in and it happened, we won a big majority, a clear 1.3 million backing Brexit and now it’s four years on to the day.
“Look at what happened in those four years. We’ve learned who the British establishment really are. Every attempt has been made in Parliament and elsewhere to frustrate the delay, to even stop Brexit from happening. But it did happen, although quite a big wobble with Theresa May who did her best to water it down so much that it would have been Brexit in name only.
“So I’m very proud of the fact that we got the Brexit Party up and running in a few weeks, smashed the establishment in those European elections and without that we would not have left on the 31st of January this year.”
He added: “There is still more work to be done. We very much demanded that there was no extension to the transition period which runs out on the 31st of December this year.
“The Government has said there would be no extension, so far so good, you may think.
“However, we now got to find out what the deal will be and whilst I have great confidence in David Frost who I think is doing a great job, the problem is the cabinet and the Conservative Party – most of them never really wanted Brexit anyway.
“We don’t know what is going to happen but there are rumours coming from within Downing Street that they could be prepared to settle for us staying aligned to EU rules but saying it’s okay because we could leave them at a future date.
“That would be Brexit in name only. We would still be in the EU rulebook. We’d be hampered doing trade with the rest of the world. We would not be genuinely an independent sovereign state.
“Even after all this we still got to be prepared to fight the establishment, and they need to know that if they let us down, if the fall at the last hurdle there will be a massive price to pay.”
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It comes after reports the European Union could soften demands in trade talks that Britain follow its state aid rules, diplomats and officials have said, just as the bloc’s own splurge to cushion the hit from the coronavirus has stretched its competition rules.
EU sources following Brexit described seeking a compromise as Brussels and Britain, which left the bloc in January, intensify talks on their relationship from 2021, when London’s standstill transition agreement ends.
The negotiations have so far made little progress. Britain wants a trade deal with no tariffs or quotas and few strings, while the EU wants a closer alliance that would also cover security, climate and transport, and to align regulations closely between the world’s largest trading bloc and its fifth-biggest economy.
State aid goes to the heart of a particularly key contentious issue: the “level playing field” guarantees of fair competition.
The EU says they are essential to open its cherished single market of 450 million people to British products without the risk of being undercut by laxer standards.
London rejects being bound by EU state aid rules since escaping the bloc’s laws and jurisdiction was a major Brexit promise to voters.