Senior Norfolk MP warns May to be more ‘flexible’ in Brexit talks

Head and shoulders of MP Keith Simpson

Head and shoulders of MP Keith Simpson - Credit: Colin Finch

The prime minister needs to be 'more flexible' in her approach to leaving the European Union, a senior Norfolk Conservative has said.

Keith Simpson said his constituents would question the Brexit vote if Britain was 'worse off than we are now' when it came to the economy and security.

Theresa May, and her ministers handing Brexit negotiations, have suggested that immigration will be the key negotiating issue for the UK - a signal which has worried markets fearful that Britain will give up its membership of the single market.

The Broadland MP, who was an aide to the former foreign secretary William Hague, said he planned to set out what he wants to see from the negotiations before Christmas 'bearing in mind what I consider the wider national interest is, but also the interests of my constituents as well.'

'The most important thing is going to be that in leaving the EU that it is the Prime Minister's objective, and indeed the Chancellor's, that in terms of the economic well-being of the country and its security, we are not worse off than we are now. If that was so, not only would that greatly concern me, but I think that a lot of my constituents would say 'wait a minute that is not what we intended'.


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'I think she [Theresa May] has got to think in terms of being more flexible on this. After all with the debate on immigration there are a number of ways that you control it without a blanket veto on it,' he added. He warned that while the 'overwhelming majority of colleagues trust and support the prime minister', there were variations within backbenches on how Britain went about leaving.

'I am one of those that say that say the twin pillars of the EU are single market and freedom of movement of labour, and essentially you can't have one without the other. If at the end of the day we decide to say we are not prepared any accept of freedom of movement and we cannot negotiate it, it is going to be very difficult to maintain access to the single market and that is going to have economic and political consequences.

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'I will be one of those urging the prime minister to see what best deal she can get for the UK with us formally leaving the EU, but having a relationship which protects our economic interest and allows some important access of people to come into the United Kingdom.'

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