Theresa May gathers warring ministers in bid to thrash out Brexit agreement

Posted On: 
7th February 2018

Theresa May will gather her most senior ministers for crunch Downing Street talks in a bid to reach an agreement on Britain's relationship with the EU after Brexit.

Cabinet ministers are set to meet today and tomorrow
PA Images

The 11-strong Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit will meet today and Thursday in an attempt to reach a common position on the next phase of negotiations.

The meeting - which will focus on immigration and Northern Ireland - is taking place against a backdrop of Tory infighting and business demands for clarity over the UK's position.

Michel Barnier: Trade barriers ‘unavoidable’ if Britain quits customs union

UK will 'categorically be leaving' the EU customs union, Downing Street says

Brexiteers 'plotting to replace Theresa May with Boris Johnson if PM seeks EU customs union'

Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are advocating a clean break from the EU's institutions, while the likes of Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd want Britain to remain as closely aligned as possible to the bloc to protect the economy.

Downing Street this week said Britain may seek a customs arrangement or a customs partnership with the EU , but would “categorically” not remain in any form of customs union.

But the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, later said at Number 10 that tariffs on UK goods would be "unavoidable" if that were the case.

The Government's move reportedly angered a host of MPs, including Anna Soubry, who said the Prime Minister should “sling out” those pushing for a hard Brexit, which she said would be “devastating”.

Furthermore a leaked document has suggested the EU wants to be able to restrict UK access to the single market if there is a dispute in the transition period after Brexit.

And in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said “patience is wearing thin” over the continued indecision by Government.

The group, which represents tens of thousands of firms, said there was a perception “continued division” and that firms cannot afford the “continued ambiguity”.