Cabinet Brexiteers heap pressure on Theresa May over customs union 'betrayal'

Posted On: 
31st March 2019

Brexiteer Cabinet ministers have warned Theresa May not to back a cross-party deal on a customs union as a way to break the ongoing deadlock over Britain's departure from the European Union.

The Prime Minister has suffered three defeats on her EU deal.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, ten members of the Cabinet are among the 170 Conservative MPs and ministers who have signed a letter organised by Commons leader Andrea Leadsom insisting that the Prime Minister must stand by her Tory manifesto pledge to leave the EU's tariff-free pact.

Some members of Mrs May's top team are urging her to reach out across the House of Commons and back a softer form of Brexit after her withdrawal agreement suffered a third defeat at the hands of MPs.

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MPs will on Monday hold a fresh round of indicative votes on a potential way forward, with a proposal for a permanent customs union with the EU last week commanding the most support of any option put before the House.

But the Sunday Telegraph reports that Cabinet ministers including Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Penny Mordaunt and Jeremy Hunt are among those who have put their name to the letter, which also warns Mrs May against delaying Brexit beyond 22 May or taking part in fresh European elections.

A string of Brexiteer Cabinet ministers are also said to be prepared to quit the Government if Mrs May opts for a customs union.

According to The Sunday Times, the top ministers used an emergency conference call this weekend to plan a mass walkout if Mrs May backs a customs union or tries to get the UK to take part in European elections in May.

One Cabinet minister told the paper: "We have got to stick by our manifesto commitment not to join a customs union. It would be deeply damaging to hold EU elections. If they are going to happen, Labour MPs will have to vote for them."

Another accused those pushing for a customs union of an "absolute betrayal of the referendum result and of this country".

They warned: "I cannot understand how any of them can describe a customs union as any kind of Brexit. You may as well revoke Article 50."