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Eight Cabinet ministers meet for 'pizza plot' to block Theresa May's Brexit strategy

Eight Cabinet ministers meet for 'pizza plot' to block Theresa May's Brexit strategy
3 min read

One-third of Theresa May's Cabinet met for pizza to debate how to block her Brexit plans, it has emerged.

A total of eight senior ministers, including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Environment Secretary Michael Gove met in Commons leader Andrea Leadsom's office ahead of a crunch Cabinet meeting this morning.

The others at the clandestine gathering were International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Treasury Secretary Liz Truss, and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox.

In a further sign of the growing Tory unease at Mrs May's approach, Cabinet members Liam Fox, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey sent their apologies for being unable to attend the meeting.

However, it is thought unlikely that any of those present will follow through with threats to resign at this morning's Cabinet, at which the Prime Minister will give an update on the state of the Brexit negotiations.

PoliticsHome has learned that those attending have been ordered to turn up 45 minutes before the 9.30am start to read key documents on Mrs May's proposed way ahead.

The Prime Minister is facing intense pressure from her own party as well as the DUP on whose support she relies for a Commons majority over efforts to break the Brexit impasse.

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague today warned that the Tories had been "stretched to breaking point" over the latest row, and said the UK needed to go "full throttle" with plans for a no-deal Brexit.

"When the Cabinet assembles this morning, it now seems very unlikely that they can collectively accept any proposed EU withdrawal agreement on the table, and indeed that they would in any case be unwise to do so," he wrote in the Telegraph.

"Such a situation may well be a cause of intense frustration for the Prime Minister, who has made a heroic effort to bring her party, Parliament and the Brussels leadership to the brink of a workable deal, but if reports of the latest drafts are to be believed, it is not sellable in Britain."

Today's Cabinet meeting comes ahead of a gathering of EU leaders on Wednesday, at which it was hoped a significant breakthrough on Brexit would be reached.

However, the two sides remain at loggerheads over plans to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Both sides are seeking to avoid new physical checks or infrastructure between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but are split over a "backstop" solution that would kick in if no permanent fix can be found.

The EU has proposed keeping Northern Ireland in the bloc's customs union and parts of the single market indefinitely, but Mrs May has warned that would threaten the "integrity of our United Kingdom" and is instead pushing a "temporary" UK-wide customs union with the EU.

European Council president Donald Tusk on Monday warned that a no-deal Brexit was "closer than ever", as he revealed that the bloc is stepping up its own preparations for the UK crashing out without an withdrawal agreement in place.

He said: "We should remain hopeful and determined, as there is good will to continue these talks on both sides.

"But at the same time, responsible as we are, we must prepare the EU for a no-deal scenario, which is more likely than ever before."

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