A DORSET MP has called on Britain to use Brexit as an opportunity to become a more "outward looking" trading nation.

Michael Tomlinson, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, has been appointed deputy chairman of the relaunched European Research Group, which today issued a call to the Government to withdraw from the European Customs Union and the European Economic Area (EEA).

The think tank, which is backed by Michael Gove, John Whittingdale and Theresa Villiers among some 70 MPs, is intended to prevent the government's Brexit platform in negotiations being "watered down" by pro-remain MPs in the cabinet.

"The timing is absolutely right," said Mr Tomlinson.

"It is an opportunity for us to put forward a positive vision of our country outside the EU.

"Over the last few weeks since the referendum and since parliament has been back there have been lots of negative headlines about what our future relationship with the EU might look like.

"It is time for us to get out on the front foot."

He said the group would be "setting out the right reasons" to justify Britain's leaving the customs union and EEA, including being able to "make deals with other countries" without being "bound by European regulations".

Asked whether Britain risked economic hardship by leaving the trading bloc, Mr Tomlinson said: "I think the opposite is the case.

"This is a golden opportunity for us to trade freely with the whole world.

"When we joined we were a world trading nation, but we became much more European focused afterwards.

"Now we can reopen ties with Commonwealth countries. We have very strong links around the world."

Although many world leaders called on Britain to remain within the EU, Mr Tomlinson said he believes they will see the new trading benefits if Britain leaves the single market, citing new US president Donald Trump's favourable view of Brexit as an example.

He said the group would be pushing for Britain to maintain trading ties with Europe outside the single market, and for immigration to continue.

"We need immigration, we need it to be positive. The important point is that we have control again," he said.

Senior Tory MPs have called on the government to drop its appeal to the Supreme Court over whether it has the power to start Brexit talks by triggering Article 50 without a vote from Parliament, calling its opposition to the High Court's judgement earlier this month an unnecessary delay.

The single market allows Britain to trade with other EU members without paying tariffs, while the customs union allows goods to cross borders without customs checks, however membership of both requires the country to follow the union's regulations.

Tory MP Steve Baker, who chairs the European Research Group, said: "A vote to remain in the EEA or the Customs Union is a vote to be powerless over trade and domestic regulation and therefore poorer than we otherwise can be.

"The UK is ideally positioned to catalyse a new global trading system which works for everyone by promoting free and fair trade and defending against predatory practices.

"If we remain in the EEA or Customs Union, we will squander a multi-generational opportunity to relight the torch of liberty and prosperity. I am proud we are standing today against the wasted opportunity and fearfulness which would be to remain within the EU internal market."