Mark Francois, the deputy chair of the European Research Group, has said that the group led by Jacob Rees-Mogg are called “right-wing extremists” for upholding the result of the EU referendum in 2016.
The Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “We have been called right-wing extremists because we are trying to hold up the decision of the referendum.
“Well then, the people calling us extremists must be calling 17.4 million Brits extremists too.”
He added: “You can’t be slightly pregnant. We either leave the European Union, which is what people voted for, or we don’t.
“There is no point voting for the withdrawal agreement as it is currently configured because it means that we don’t leave the European Union.
“People say that it is the best we are going to get but I disagree because we would be voting to stay in.”
'Hang half-in, half-out'
Mr Francois addressed suggestions that the ERG were “going soft” by saying “it was news to him”.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is currently in Brussels continuing negotiations and Mr Francois said the ERG will wait to see what he returns with.
He said: "Two weeks ago, the House of Commons voted for the Brady amendment that said the Irish backstop – the most controversial part of the agreement – should be replaced.
“The House of Commons gave the prime minister a mandate to go to Brussels and say ‘if you want this deal to pass, you have got to replace the backstop with some alternative arrangements.’
“It turns out that government has not asked them to do that, which I think will upset the Commons because that is the mandate we gave.”
He said: “The difficulty with the withdrawal agreement is that we don’t leave the EU because the way that it is drafted we hang half-in, half-out.”