‘Irate’ Michael Gove rips up PM’s customs plan as Brexit pressure grows – The Sun
The irate Environment Secretary stunned officials by ripping a document he disliked in two at a meeting this week.
The dramatic scene came as tensions around the PM’s top table spiral again ahead of a showdown at Chequers where Britain’s demands for a future EU relationship will finally be thrashed out next Friday.
Downing Street are desperate to make big new offers to the EU in a bid to restart stalled Brexit talks.
With the clock ticking down fast, No10 are desperate not to see Mrs May boxed into having to walk out of talks if her new blueprint is turned down.
But in a major negotiating strategy clash, Brexiteer ministers instead insist the PM wait for an “inevitable” last minute climb down by EU leaders themselves in October, when panic about no deal sets in.
One Leave backing Cabinet minister told The Sun: “Ireland is desperate for a deal, their economy is totally screwed without one. Belgium will see 4% lopped off its GDP too.
“Of course they will do a deal with us. But everything happens at the last minute with the EU, so we must not be afraid to hold our nerve”.
But a senior No10 source argued: “We may only have one shot left at getting the 27 leaders to re-engage so our offer must be solid and attractive”.
Under the PM’s concession plans, Britain will stay aligned to all EU single market rules on goods, but not services.
While most of the Brexiteer ministers are ready to reluctantly agree the move, there is a mounting row over how binding the alignment pledge should be.
No10 also want to offer Brussels a form of free movement for European workers.
But that is being bitterly opposed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who insists any new immigration policy must be “evidence-based” and a card held back until the Autumn.
In his Sun column today, James Forsyth reveals Mr Gove was left livid at a meeting on Wednesday of the Cabinet working group on Mrs May’s preferred border plan for trade, the new customs partnership.
The former Leave campaign boss opposes the model – would see the UK collecting tariffs on the EU’s behalf even after Brexit – as bureaucratic and unworkable.
But a summary document of the group’s six week-long discussions downplayed his fears “to almost nothing” and implied the plan had his approval, so he ripped it up in front of them in a flash of anger.
It emerged yesterday that Cabinet ministers have been warned they cannot Chequers without a final agreement – even if it means going without sleep deep into the night.
THE SUN SAYS
The Government’s latest compromise is to agree to stay in the single market for goods. To which the EU’s Michel Barnier will inevitably reply: “No. It’s full single market membership, including free movement of migrants, or nothing.”
Then what? What else has No10 got?
There are red lines Theresa May must not cross: free movement, independent trade deals, our courts’ supremacy. She won’t survive conceding on any of them.
We weep for Downing Street’s tactics.
They seem terrified that the PM might have to walk out of talks. Why? If the EU continues to demand everything on its terms, she must do exactly that.
They’ll call back.
A former Brexit minister yesterday warned the Cabinet that Brexit negotiations could become “a rout” by the EU if they don’t settle their feuds and agree soon, meaning “‘the game will be up”.
An Ipsos Mori pol yesterday found only 30% think Mrs May will get good Brexit deal now.
Mrs May was warned that any more compromises will not be accepted by Brexiteer Tories.
Quizzed on if the PM’s red lines need to be softened again, senior backbencher Crispin Blunt said: “I don’t think they can be. “We can’t find ourselves in a position where we have rules dictated to us by the European Union.
“It’s about time we relied on the strength of our negotiating position.”
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