Published On: Mon, May 7th, 2018

'This could be the end of May' Tories on brink of CIVIL WAR in EU customs union row

As MPs return to Parliament today, Mrs May is facing a stark warning that Brexiteers will not put up with her pressing plans to create a new customs partnership with the EU which could tie Britain to Brussels rule for years to come.

The warning comes after a weekend where Mrs May sent her Remainer business secretary Greg Clark out to the television studios to defend her plans.

But environment secretary Michael Gove, the former leader of Vote Leave, then hit back by agreeing to a Twitter thread which attacked the controversial proposal.

Mr Gove risked fuelling the row after describing as “helpful” a Twitter thread by former aide Henry Newman – now director of the Open Europe think tank – which described resurrecting the customs partnership as “surely misguided”.

Mrs May is understood to want a plan devised by controversial civil Olly Robbins, which would turn Britain into the EU’s tax collector in a bid to sort out customs problems after Brexit and create a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Many thought the plan was “dead” after a Brexit war cabinet last week when new Home Secretary Sajid Javid joined Brexiteers to vote down an option which Jacob Rees Mogg has branded “cretinous”.

Senior Tory Brexiteers have been lining up to hit back at attempts to tie Britain to EU customs arrangements and the single market.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, writing on the ConservativeHome website, said: “Despite the crucial Cabinet sub-committee on Brexit negotiations and strategy deciding last week that the scheme isn’t fit for purpose, some in Downing Street are, incredibly, now briefing out that after a few tweaks it can be presented again.”

Former Brexit minister David Jones also claimed there was “no doubt” Mr Clark’s appearance to push a customs partnership had been “licensed” by Number 10.

He warned: “They ought to understand that the customs partnership is dead and finished and they should give up.

“If a eurosceptic minister had spoken out, in the same way, they would have been hauled in front of Number 10. It’s disgraceful.”

Last week, the Daily Express revealed that if Mrs May ignores Brexiteers on this issue Brexit Secretary David Davis is likely to resign.

If that happens then other Brexit supporting ministers are expected to follow and senior backbenchers have said there will be the 48 signatures required from Tory Mps to trigger a vote of confidence in Mrs May’s leadership.

Last night, a senior Tory MP said: “That threat [of a vote of confidence] has not gone away. This could be the end of Theresa May.

“She may not realise it but we are on the brink here. She needs to listen to her parties and her Cabinet who have given a very strong message on this issue.”

In his intervention Mr Clark claimed that thousands of jobs could be lost at places like Toyota’s car plant if the customs partnership does not happen.

But his comments were described as “more Project Fear” by Mr Rees Mogg, chairman of the influential pro-Brexit European Research Group.

However, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, a leading Remainer who was forced to resign last week for misleading parliament, has backed Mr Clark.

She said Mr Clark was right to argue the case “for a Brexit that protects existing jobs and future investment”.

Labour, the Lib Dems and SNP are hoping to get together with Tory Remainers like Anna Soubry to vote through an amendment to the trade bill forcing Britain to stay under Brussels rule in a full customs union.

This would turn Britain into a country like Turkey which has no say over its trade policy and cannot create separate free trade agreements with outside countries.

Daily Express :: News Feed