Campaigners clash after PM’s Brexit speech

Alex Mayer, the new Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England.
Alex Mayer, the new Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England.

The claims of Brexit supporters have been left “in tatters” following Theresa May’s speech this week, according to one of West Norfolk’s European representatives.

Labour MEP Alex Mayer has slammed what she called the “lies” of Leave campaigners after the prime minister announced Britain would leave the single market on Tuesday.

But a leading Leave supporter in the borough claimed Ms Mayer showed she was “ignorant” of the issues.

Mrs May set out 12 negotiating objectives for the talks that will begin once Britain formally signals its intention to leave the EU.

But she said Britain would not seek to remain in the single market, instead looking for a free trade deal with the EU.

But Ms Mayer claimed the prime minister had given up vital access to the market in order to satisfy Eurosceptics within her own party.

She also claimed Leave campaigners had repeatedly argued access to the market would not be affected by any Brexit decision.

Ms Mayer said: “I think I preferred ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ to ‘abandon everything to keep Tory Eurosceptics happy Brexit.’

“I’m angry because during the referendum, in hustings after hustings, if I mentioned some of the benefits of our membership of the European Union like membership of the single market, Leave campaigners just replied that we could negotiate to keep that part.

“But it is clear the new Tory plan now leaves that idea in tatters.”

“Twelve negotiating objectives have been outlined but where are the plans to protect jobs, the economy, and environmental rights? The Tories are still playing politics with Britain’s prosperity.”

But Toby Coke, leader of Norfolk County Council’s UKIP group said: “She seems to me like she’s extremely badly informed and pretty ignorant.”

He praised Mrs May’s speech and said comments from US president-elect Donald Trump supporting the conclusion of an early free trade deal between America and Britain showed the opportunities that are available.

He added: “You have to leave the single market if you’re going to control immigration and you have to leave the customs union if you want to make trade deals elsewhere.”