Tory Brexiteers warn PM they are ‘watching’ what he brings back from Brussels

Boris Johnson has been warned by Conservative Brexit hardliners that they want to maintain “at any price” the UK’s sovereignty.

Sir Bill Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, told the Prime Minister that they will be “watching” with “great diligence” over what he proposes and they hope their confidence in him will be justified.

The MP for Stone also claimed the country was at its “most important moment” in its history in the last 250 years, as talks between the UK and EU over future arrangements beyond December 31 come to a head.

His remarks came as MPs debated the resolutions related to the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill with such motions needed to authorise the creation, extension or increase of taxes or other charges.

The Bill has yet to be published, prompting concern among MPs but treasury minister Jesse Norman insisted it will play an important part in post-Brexit preparations.

Ahead of the debate, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said controversial powers enabling ministers to breach international law over the Withdrawal Agreement would be dropped from this Bill and the UK Internal Market Bill.

The announcement followed confirmation that the UK and EU have reached an agreement on the implementation of the divorce deal, resolving issues relating primarily to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Sir Bill said: “All I can say, however, is we will be watching all these matters with great diligence and with a constructive approach because I trust when we’ve been through the full proceedings on this Bill and finalising the Internal Market Bill, we will hope and trust that the confidence is entirely justified and there’ll be no impairment of our sovereignty of the United Kingdom – which is what this is all about.

“I’ll simply conclude by saying this: not since 1688 have we been faced with a situation of such historic importance, other than when we went in to the European Union under the false pretences of a white paper which turned out to be unfortunately misleading the British people.”

He added: “This is the most important moment in our history in terms of the last 250 years whereby we have regained the sovereignty that was embedded in the arrangements after 1688/89.”

Sir Bill went on: “This is our sovereignty and we have absolute total determination, as I understand so does the Prime Minister, to maintain that.

“It’s about democracy, it’s about freedom, it’s what Churchill was proud of, it’s what Margaret Thatcher was proud of, it’s what we’re proud of – and I simply make this final point, we will maintain our sovereignty at any price.”

Opening the debate, Mr Norman said the Government “remains optimistic, cautiously optimistic” about the conclusion of the Brexit talks.

He also said: “However, there is no doubt that we have a responsibility to the people of the United Kingdom to be ready for every outcome.

“And the measures contained in the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill, which will be introduced and published following this debate, will play an important part in those preparations.”

Mr Norman added: “In particular, it will ensure that we meet our commitment to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland in relation to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and it would help to uphold our pledge to protect the UK’s internal market by ensuring that Northern Ireland goods have unfettered access to Great Britain.

“To that end, this Bill will set out a new framework for the UK’s customs, VAT and excise systems following the end of the transition period so that there are clear rules in place for goods movements.”

For Labour, shadow treasury minister Bridget Phillipson said: “We recognise that there needs to be a lawful basis for the collection of VAT, of lawful customs duties, an aviation fuel duty and insurance premium tax even while we do not yet know what the Government proposes to table by way of a Bill.”

She added: “Less than 24 hours before its second reading and before a committee of the whole House, less than a month before we leave the EU, we simply do not know with any certainty what measures the Government intends to set out.”