Theresa May’s Cabinet is still “a million miles away” from agreeing the Government’s position on Brexit after the first of two key meetings of senior ministers, The Daily Telegraph has been told.
With concern growing within the Cabinet over a lack of progress on such crucial issues as the Irish border and citizens’ rights, the Prime Minister sought to ease Tory tensions over her approach by insisting she had “no doubts” about her plan for a new relationship with Brussels.
Sources say there are still “substantial divisions” between Brexiteers and Remainers in the 11-strong Brexit “war Cabinet”, which will meet again on Thursday to discuss the Government’s position on a future trade deal. “Nothing” was agreed after two hours of discussion on Wednesday.
The consecutive two-hour meetings of the committee had been billed as the moment the Cabinet’s direction of travel on Brexit would finally crystallise.
But Whitehall sources said the meeting was “flat” with “no real in-depth discussion of the issues”.
One source said: “There is mounting concern that nothing has been agreed yet. No-one seems to know when this is going to be sorted out.
“There has been talk of the Cabinet being taken away to Chequers to thrash out an agreement on what kind of trade deal we want and how we solve the Northern Ireland issue, but nothing has been arranged.
“At the moment it feels like the Cabinet is a million miles away from agreeing a position.”
Another source said: “The Cabinet is closer to agreeing a position on transition than it is to agreeing on the end state.
“There are some pretty substantial divisions between different members of the Cabinet on the sort of Brexit we are pursuing, and it doesn’t seem as though any of them are going to undergo a Damascene conversion any time soon.”
The 11-strong Cabinet Brexit committee consists of Mrs May, David Lidington, Philip Hammond, David Davis, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Amber Rudd, Gavin Williamson, Karen Bradley and Greg Clark.
The Cabinet must agree its position on the transition period before March, when the European Council next meets to cement the terms of a transition deal.
Mr Davis then hopes to agree the terms of a trade deal by October so that it can be voted on by all 28 member states, including Britain, before Britain leaves the European Union in March next year.
Any delay in agreeing Britain’s position could lead to the October deadline being pushed back, potentially increasing the chances of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
At a lavish black-tie event on Wednesday night, Mrs May said she had an “ambitious” vision for the UK after Brexit.
“Ever since the British people delivered their vote in the referendum, I have had no doubts about what our new relationship with the EU must mean for the United Kingdom,” she told the donors, celebrities and politicians at the Tory party’s annual Black and White Ball in London.
“It will mean taking control of our money – so we are not sending vast annual subscriptions to the EU.
“It also means control of our borders – so we decide on our own immigration policy; one which attracts the brightest and the best to come to these shores, and one which also ensures we are investing in our own talent here at home.
“And it means control of our laws – so British courts are supreme and the European Court of Justice no longer overrules them.”
She stressed her plan would mean leaving the single market and customs union but “constructing a completely new trading partnership with the EU”.
Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/08/cabinet-still-miles-away-agreeing-position-brexit/