Theresa May's cunning plan on Brexit: ministerial divide and rule

Written by Kevin Schofield on 11 May 2018 in Diary

The PM has decided to force arch-Brexiters to work with pro-EU cabinet ministers.

Things are so bad in Theresa May’s Cabinet these days that she can hardly bear to have them all in the same room together, it would seem.

In her latest attempt to thrash out some kind of agreement on Britain’s future trading links with the EU, the prime minister has set up two working groups to examine the options which, hitherto, have split her top team down the middle.

The Baldrickesque cunning plan will see arch-Brexiters Liam Fox and Michael Gove team up with Europhile David Lidington to examine the customs partnership, while the pro-EU Greg Clark and Karen Bradley will join Leave big beast David Davis to look at the maximum facilitation option.

After his recent outburst, there is no role in either group for Boris Johnson. Both groups will then report back to the next meeting of the PM’s Brexit war cabinet next week.

Cynics are suggesting it’s all a ruse to provide May with cover to drop her preferred customs partnership without losing too much face. The prime minister now just wants the plan to “die with dignity,” according one Brexiteer’s briefing.

Meanwhile an unnamed Cabinet minister tells The Guardian’s Pippa Crerar that the latest approach to Brexit will inevitably lead to a big slice of customs fudge: “The prime minister wants to find a way through this that keeps the party together. Her instinct is to stick as closely to the status quo as she can get away with. We’ll end up with a fudge on the customs union just so we can say we’ve delivered Brexit. She just wants to kick any decisions down the road for as long as she can.”

Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain is also highly unconvinced, with CEO Eloise Todd saying: “Theresa May can create whatever working groups she wants but it doesn't change the facts. Both plans are just plain rubbish.”



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