The chairman of the influential European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs said the EU’s refusal to accept either of Britain’s proposed new customs arrangements should only serve to strengthen preparations for a no deal.
On Friday, it was reported that the EU’s chef negotiator Michel Barnier was not willing to consider the UK either accepting tariffs on the EU’s behalf at the border or operating a technology-based “trusted trader” scheme to solve the ongoing issue.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Ireland has said it doesn’t want a hard border, the UK has said it doesn’t want a hard border and the EU itself has said it doesn’t want a hard border – so frankly it’s up to Brussels if it wants to start putting up border posts. We should call their bluff.
“It’s clear the EU is not going to accept anything short of us remaining in the customs union but we’re not going to split up the UK simply to help (Irish Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar at the next election.
“The EU is not only contradicting its own policy but jeopardising the economic future of the Republic of Ireland.
If Britain trades on WTO terms, we could potentially slap tariffs of up to 70 per cent on Irish beef.
“That could bankrupt Ireland, who export £800million of beef to us every year.
And if there is no deal, the EU doesn’t get their £40billion divorce bill money and becomes insolvent.”
The Government is braced for further defeats in the Lords this week after peers backed changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
As a result, remainer MPs have pushed for another debate and vote on Britain’s ongoing membership of the customs union which could prove embarrassing for Theresa May.