Theresa May to set out plan to break Brexit deadlock
The Prime Minister is to set out a plan to heal deep splits within cabinet and break the impasse over the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
Number 10 is expected to present a blueprint to the Brexit strategy committee detailing a potential new customs arrangement with the union on Friday.
Drawn up by Mrs May’s Europe advisor Ollie Robbins, details of the plan have not been divulged.
Cabinet sources have told The Times that ministers may be receptive to the blueprint.
‘We will approach this with an open mind’ an unnamed minister said.
‘If this is about tricking us to a soft Brexit, then it won’t wash. If it’s about genuinely keeping things smooth, then of course it will be properly considered.’
The Brexit strategy committee is made up of 11 cabinet members, four of whom backed Leave during the referendum and seven who campaigned to remain in the EU.
The move follows a week of turmoil in the Conservative Party over Brexit, with Cabinet ministers breaking ranks to set out their positions.
Cabinet members Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox warn against remaining in a customs union next week, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.
Yesterday, Dr Fox told Bloomberg TV that the UK would have to be outside any customs union once it left the EU. Mrs May had previously refused to rule out remaining in a customs union.
“It is very difficult to see how being in a customs union is compatible with having an independent trade policy, because we would therefore be dependent on what the EU negotiated in terms of its trading policies and we’d be following behind that,’ he said.
‘One of the reasons we are leaving the European Union is to take control and that’s not possible in a common external tariff.’
Tory Remainers Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke have also tabled amendments to two trade bills to be debated in February which would see the UK commit to remaining within the EU customs union.
The Treasury is believed to have been privately making the case for remaining within a customs union, with Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg accusing the chancellor of undermining Brexit.