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Brexit: Minister appointed to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal wants European Union ‘wholly torn down’

Exclusive: Steve Baker MP makes comments at right-wing Libertarian Alliance conference in 2010

The newest member of Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating team has been filmed calling for the destruction of the European UnionThe Independent can reveal.

In a speech to a right-wing think tank, minister Steve Baker said the EU should be “wholly torn down”, before branding it an “obstacle” to world peace and “incompatible” with a free society.

Tory MPs warned Mr Baker’s appointment could now risk the UK’s ability to secure good Brexit terms, while Labour said it was “extraordinary” and raised a major question about the Prime Minister’s judgement.

The comments are likely to prove embarrassing for Ms May as she heads into meetings with European leaders this week, including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

In the video Mr Baker tells a cheering audience: “I think Ukip and the Better Off Out campaign lack ambition. I think the European Union needs to be wholly torn down.”

Filmed at an event by The Libertarian Alliance in 2010, he goes on to argue that the EU has “succeeded in raising economic nationalism to a continental scale”.

 The Wycombe MP, who played a lead role in the Leave campaign, adds: “It was meant to defeat economic nationalism, it is therefore a failure in its own terms.

“If we wish to devolve power to the lowest possible level, make it accountable and move on into a free society, then it’s clearly incompatible.

“What I want is free trade and peace among all the nations of Europe as well as the world and in my view the European Union is an obstacle to that.”

laconf2010, Panel: Christie Davies, Steve Baker, Peter Mentzel from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.


The cabinet and wider Tory party is split over the EU, with many MPs pushing a weakened Prime Minister for a more jobs-focussed approach to withdrawal, while Brexiteers are said to have threatened resignations if she changes tack.

Backbench Tories have also said they are working with other parties to try and soften the hardline approach to Brexit  Ms May took into the election.

After seeing the video, one Conservative MP told The Independent: “It just reveals what the extreme Brexiteers have been about all along.

“It’s not enough to take the UK out of the EU. They want the entire thing to fall apart.

“How is it possible to negotiate a ‘deep and special relationship’ with the EU, when you have ministers who want the institutions they are negotiating with to disintegrate?”

Another MP said: “This is only going to further embitter relations. It doesn’t help our chances of getting a deal.”

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, who has called for a more co-operative approach to Brexit, said: “there should be no place” for Mr Baker’s views at the Department for Exiting the European Union.

He added: “It is extraordinary that Theresa May has put such an extreme Brexiteer at the heart of the Government.

“This poses real questions about her judgement and the Government’s desire to build the collaborative, cooperative future partnership we need with the EU.”

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-european-union-eu-steve-baker-theresa-may-wholly-torn-down-libertarian-alliance-a7820721.html

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