Harpenden MP Peter Lilley praises ‘grown-up government’ during Brexit negotiations

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley. Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parl

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley. Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament - Credit: Parliament

Outspoken Eurosceptic Peter Lilley, Harpenden’s MP, continues to call for a swift Brexit, saying that it should be feasible given the UK’s current ‘grown-up government’.

During an interview with London-based radio station LBC last Tuesday (27), Peter was asked to comment on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations.

Having a dig at the previous leadership, the politician replied, “thank heavens we are back to a grown-up government”.

He added that the current Prime Minister, “instead of making up policies on a safer response to some PR agenda is going through it seriously and demands that ministers produce papers covering all the options and all the costs and all the advantages.

“That’s a good thing. The bad thing is that that takes time and I hope it’ll be over and done with fairly soon and we’ll have a clear statement of what they want and that will enable us to trigger Article 50 before the end of March. The sooner the better as far as I’m concerned.”

In November, he sponsored a motion asking Parliament to support the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union.

Peter was also quizzed by the station on the much-publicised row over whether the Queen spoke in favour of leaving the EU before the June 23 referendum, in light of recent remarks by the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, and a controversial article in The Sun.

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He said: “I don’t know what the Queen said and the Queen doubtless has private conversations and asks questions and things – that is not the same as making assertions.

“The Queen, you know, is the most experienced person in public life in this country. She’s been at it for a long, long time and she is very cautious about what she says but she may well ask questions which lead people to jump to conclusions as to what her real views are.”

Peter confirmed - yet again - that he was in favour of leaving the EU “as soon as possible because delay does have costs”.

But he brushed over the recent furore, not to mention confusion, over an anticipated ‘£200 million-a-week Brexit dividend’ – a payback from Brussels.

This followed a report by independent fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which pointed out that with Brexit negotiations looming, a lack of information about the Government’s strategy, and trade-offs it may have to make, it had made an initial set of “broad-brush judgements that we can revisit in future forecasts”.

Peter signed an open letter alongside John Redwood criticising the Treasury watchdog for missing such a supposed dividend in its forecast for the economy and public finances, adding that this sum should be spent on priorities, the most important of which ‘is our NHS’.

However, this letter was mocked in The Independent, which quoted OBR chairman Robert Chote “dismissing the claim, pointing out the watchdog had included the money in its calculations, and had already assumed the money would be spent”.

Last week, while speaking to LBC and asked to clarify his position on the financial impact further, Peter said that “every week’s delay costs us [the net figure of] £250 million pounds at least and the more serious delays’ cost is the sheer uncertainty. So there is great advantage in speed.

“There are two possible options. Either we agree with our partners that we continue tariff free barrier-free trade or we go to trading on most favoured nation terms, the same as other big countries’ trade with the European Union. Either is acceptable. It is better to continue without tariffs. But if we have to wait for a long time with uncertainty, and paying extra costs, then it would be better to go to most favoured nation terms straight away.”

Asked whether he was, “in favour of this very simple formula that says we save all those millions every week, and we give it to the NHS, or is it a lot more complicated for you?” Peter replied, “well certainly we do save that money and, this independent advisor, the OBR, says if we leave in 2019, well then we’ll save £250 million pounds a week which we can spend on other public services – it’ll be up to parliament to decide which but clearly the NHS has got the most claim on it.”