Eurosceptic British ministers quit in blow to May's plan — BREXIT

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.    WPA Pool   Getty

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox. WPA Pool Getty

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.

A softer Brexit strategy was endorsed by the divided cabinet on Friday at the prime minister's Chequers country residence.

This phased arrangement would remove the need for customs checks and controls between Britain and the European Union, instead functioning "as if a combined customs territory". "The general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position and possibly an inescapable one".

She has now signaled however, in a letter to Conservative Party legislators, that ministers who dissent in public will be dismissed now that "collective responsibility" has been restored.

He stressed that the European Court of Justice's "remit in the United Kingdom will end when we leave" but "of course there will be a degree of looking from one group of judges to another".

Meanwhile, the cabinet proposal would retain regulatory flexibility for its dominant services sector, "where the potential trading opportunities outside the European Union are the largest", in return for restricted access to European Union markets.

The proposals would involve a new "facilitated customs arrangement" meant to remove the need for a hard border in Ireland, and the creation of a new UK-EU free trade area, in which the UK would abide by a "common rule book" of EU regulations.

"The prime minister has totally misled 17.4 million voters and left it as late as possible to reveal that she remains a stubborn Remainer", said its chairman John Longworth.

So, on Wednesday the Prime Minister told us categorically that we were out of the single market, out of the customs union, ending free movement and outside ECJ jurisdiction.

First Davis and then Johnson appear to have done so, and their resignations have come at a critical and highly sensitive time for May.

Boris Johnson is understood to have strongly criticised the plan during the cabinet meeting at Chequers before signing up to it.

"Some will try to keep their leadership hopes alive by claiming it was not the time to quit and they had a duty to stay on to ensure Brexit is not further watered down".

Pro-EU ministers are expecting to pressure Mrs May to face down the Brexit hardliners. Some lawmakers have already expressed their misgivings.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said Jacob Rees-Mogg was now the only credible challenger to Mrs May, after Brexiteer cabinet ministers failed to oppose the PM's plan. Please vote purple and you might get what you want, voting Red is just a great way of having your bank account raided and having the country forced to apply for an International Monetary Fund bail-out! The UK would apply its own tariffs for goods intended for the UK, but set European Union tariffs for goods heading into the EU. "Will those red lines still there survive negotiation with the European Union?"

Tory MP Anne Main (St Albans) later asked Mrs May if she would consider recalling Parliament over the summer recess depending on how negotiations progressed.

Hard-line Brexit backers - who want May to seek a clean, decisive break from Brussels - were in open revolt over her recently revealed proposals. "It's more important to do what you have promised the British electorate than stick by lines in the sand".

Several pro-Brexit ministers publicly backed May after the meeting, as did both pro- and anti-Brexit MPs. "It was the right thing to do".

With little more than a day to go before senior ministers meet in Buckinghamshire to thrash out a white paper, ministers are said to be sceptical about the so-called "third way" to solve the customs issue on the Irish border.

Mr Davis had come close to resigning before, but Mrs May must have hoped the danger of Cabinet resignations had passed after Friday's deal at her official country retreat. I take my hat off to you. "We need to make sure this is now a game changer for Brexit".

Mr Gove was not the only Cabinet minister trying to win over critics.

Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC's political editor, tweeted that a former cabinet colleague of Mr Davis had said "it's a personal outburst. he's always struggled to muscle into any of the complicated arguments. he is a puff of smoke who will blow away like a dandelion".

This is considerable improvement from the 1.3 per cent contraction posted in April and easily beating forecasts of a modest 0.3 per cent expansion.

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