Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

May secures cabinet backing for 'soft Brexit'

David Davis and Boris Johnson at The Spectator summer party this week David Davis and Boris Johnson at The Spectator summer party this weekALAN DAVIDSON
Steven Clarke | 09 July, 2018, 01:07

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners in the cabinet, took to TV to endorse the plan, as critics inside and outside the ruling Conservative Party started to attack the proposal.

But he told the BBC, "If, when we get the detailed legislation, it turns out that it is a punishment Brexit, that it is keeping us in the European Union in all but name, I... will not vote for it".

He stressed that Britain was leaving the European Union as planned in March, adding: "You shouldn't make the ideal the enemy of the good". "And one of the things about this compromise is that it unites the cabinet".

The Times newspaper said, without citing sources, that May was taking a hard line and had promised senior allies that she would sack foreign minister Boris Johnson, a Brexit supporter, if he tried "to undermine the peace deal".

The cabinet spent 12 hours at the Prime Minster's country retreat thrashing out how Britain will negotiate Britain leaving the European Union, with Sky reporting Johnson used the "T-word" "repeatedly".

It was a hard-won victory.

In an ominous warning to the Prime Minister, some 60 percent of those surveyed by the ConservativeHome website said the deal as outlined so far would be bad for Britain if implemented and the same proportion said they did not support it.

"Our proposal will create a UK-EU free trade area which establishes a common rule book for industrial goods and agricultural products. Stop undermining Scotland's best chance of a deal with the European Union".

"We can be more optimistic than we were a week ago", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told a news conference after meeting his Austrian counterpart in Dublin.

MPs are now waiting for more detail in a white paper to be published next Thursday. It remains to be seen whether the foreign secretary will be less vocal.

'Disorganized' Tropical Storm Beryl moving a little faster, but blowing no harder
It is said Beryl will "degenerate into a trough of low pressure" as it moves into the eastern caribbean sea by Monday. The tropical storm watch for Barbados has been discontinued as Beryl "no longer poses a direct threat".

"(In) all of the important areas where an independent country chooses to exercise sovereignty, Britain will be able to do so", Gove said, adding the plan respected the referendum result.

The UK said it now wanted to accelerate the negotiations in an effort to secure an agreement by October, but also warned it will step up preparations for leaving on 29 March 2019 without a deal.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a leading Brexit supporter, admitted the proposal thrashed out by cabinet ministers during a day-long meeting on Friday was not flawless.

The opposition Labour party, by contrast, said the plan was "unworkable" and urged MPs to back Britain's continued membership of the customs union, which will be put to a vote in the House of Commons on July 16.

The SNP leader said on Twitter: "It simply underlines fact that if United Kingdom is leaving the EU (which I wish it wasn't) the only workable solution is to stay in single market and customs union".

"A deal that guarantees us access to the (EU's single market) until such time as we chose regulatory divergence?".

By also committing to ending free movement of people, the supremacy of the European court and "vast" payments to the bloc, May could be accused of "cherry-picking" the best bits of the EU by Brussels officials, who are determined to send a strong signal to other countries not to follow Britain out of the door.

Tory Andrew Bridgen said he could not support the proposals that came out of Chequers, describing them as a breach of the red lines and that he wouldn't support it "even if the European Union were paying us for it".

Britain said the proposal would also solve the problem of the Border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Since becoming prime minister almost two years ago, Mrs May - whose party does not enjoy a majority in Parliament - has endured outspoken criticism from senior ministers, most notably Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who wants a total rupture with the EU.

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