Britain will thrive outside of the EU even if there is no deal between the two parties, according to Conservative MP Shailesh Vara.
The North West Cambridgeshire MP, whose constituency covers parts of Peterborough, resigned as Northern Ireland minister on Thursday in protest at the EU withdrawal agreement put forward by Theresa May.
Mr Vara grabbed the national headlines when he became the first of several ministers to quit the Government following the publication of the deal on Wednesday afternoon.
The MP said the agreement would leave the UK “in a half-way house with no time limit on when we will finally be a sovereign nation”.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegrapgh, Mr Vara, who voted Remain in the EU Referendum, defied calls for a second plebiscite and hit out at “scaremongering” by Remainers who he accused of running Project Fear.
He said: “I’m not in favour of a second referendum. The British public have made up their minds in terms of what they want Parliament to decide. The referendum was decisive - it said we should leave the EU.
“We can’t make up the rules after the event because those that want to Remain did not like the result.
“I’m in favour of even at this late stage trying to get (Mrs May’s) proposals changed to satisfy myself and others who take the view we need certainty in terms of when we are going to leave the customs arrangement, or a mechanism for where we can unilaterally leave.
“If we can’t make these changes I think we go into a no deal scenario and use WTO (World Trade Organization) rules. A lot of people are frightened by that due to a lot of scaremongering out there.
“It was absolutely clear before the Referendum a whole lot of fear stories were put out by those want wanted to Remain. They said the day after the result if we choose to Leave the economy would go into a downward spiral and unemployment would rocket.
“If you look we have record low unemployment and the economy is doing well.
“I accept if you leave without a deal there would be short-term difficulties, but you would not be passing billions of pounds to the EU because we would have left. Those billions of pounds could be spent on cushioning the economy.
“We as a country can then pursue our own destiny as a sovereign nation for decades to come. People are forgetting the huge opportunities we have.
“Project Fear did not materialise first time around, and I’m confident it won’t materialise second time around, although I accept there will be short-term difficulties.
“I think we as a country should move forward with confidence and not fear. We did not become one of the strongest economies in the world by fear.”
Mr Vara said problems in Europe caused by a no deal would force politicians there back to the negotiating table, and that the UK could entice businesses over after Brexit by substantially reducing corporation tax.
The MP, who described working in the Northern Ireland Department as an “immense privilege,” also revealed that he did not speak to the Prime Minister before resigning on Thursday, but he has no intention of handing in a letter of no confidence calling on her to resign.
He added: “(Resigning was) something that I thought about a few days before I actually resigned, but I was very keen to actually see the final decision before making up my mind.
“The deal came out late afternoon, early evening on Wednesday and there was a fair bit of reading to do overnight, and it did not address my concerns so I resigned on Thursday morning.
“I was broadly aware of what was coming, but I was also aware there was a possibility there could have been some addressing of issues that had concerned me.
“A particular matter I wanted assurance on was we would not be locked into a customs arrangement indefinitely.
“What we’ve got is a half-way house - it’s something that cannot please Remainers or Leavers. It locks us into a customs arrangement where we are no longer sat at the top table, but those rules will be imposed on us and we must follow them.
“If we want to leave the customs arrangement we can’t do so unilaterally. We must agree with the other side if we want to leave, and if they say no we go to arbitration and the decision can go against us.
“Tariff and trade terms would be entirely imposed by the EU.”
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