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Fri, 4 December 2020

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David Davis calls for Cabinet rebellion over Theresa May's Brexit plan

David Davis calls for Cabinet rebellion over Theresa May's Brexit plan
3 min read

David Davis has called on Cabinet ministers to rise up against Theresa May's Brexit blueprint as the Prime Minister prepares for a week which could make or break her premiership.


The former Brexit Secretary said it was time for Mrs May's most senior ministers "to exert their collective authority" ahead of a crunch EU summit in Brussels.

His comments, in an article for The Sunday Times, come amid mounting speculation that Cabinet Brexiteers Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and Esther McVey are all considering resigning.

Mr Davis also launched another bitter attack on the Brexit strategy agreed by the Cabinet he was part of at Chequers in July.

In particular, he took aim at suggestions the Prime Minister could sign up to a deal which does not include a date for the UK's departure from a "temporary" customs arrangement with the EU which is designed to provide time to solve the Irish border issue.

He said: "It seems entirely probable that this policy would lead to us being trapped in the customs union for the foreseeable future. It is a bad policy, but it could be rendered tolerable if it were clear that the decision to leave the customs union rested with the UK government alone, that it would be explicitly temporary and that we would leave well before the next election. Dominic Raab is entirely right to insist on this.

"If we do not do this, the policy would destroy any chance of striking new trade deals with the rest of the world. Trade deals are by far the biggest economic upside for Brexit. This ill-conceived proposal is already undermining the confidence of prospective trade partners."

Mr Davis - who resigned from the Cabinet over the Chequers plan - insisted Mrs May still has time to ditch it and negotiate a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU.

But he said that if she is unwilling to do so, the Cabinet should take matters into its own hands.

The Tory MP - who is thought to be plotting to replace the Prime Minister on a temporary basis while the Brexit negotiations are concluded - said: "The Cabinet committee that governs EU negotiations has barely met since July. Instead, the decisions seem to have been taken by an ad hoc group. Other Cabinet members have been excluded from the decisions and, in some cases, even the briefings.

"This is one of the most fundamental decisions that government has taken in modern times. It is time for Cabinet members to exert their collective authority. This week the authority of our constitution is on the line."

The Sunday Times also reports that Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson have also warned that they will resign if any Brexit deal imposes extra customs checks between Britain and Northern Ireland, claiming it could give a boost to the Scottish independence campaign.

A source close to Mr Mundell said: "Our red lines are well known."

Meanwhile, Mr Davis is also one of 63 Tory euroscpetics, which also includes former Cabinet members Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel, who have signed a letter to the Sunday Telegraph warning that the Prime Minister's proposals could see voters "lose faith in our democracy".

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