Theresa May values the Daily Mail more than any other news outlet, it is said, and she can be left in no doubt as to what the paper thinks of her customs fudge this morning. Today’s Mail editorial directly backs Boris and warns the PM:
“Let’s be clear what this new ‘partnership’ means. British customs officers would act as tax collectors for Brussels, continuing to charge EU tariffs on imports entering the UK from outside the bloc, then giving rebates to traders whose goods were sold exclusively in Britain… it would be a logistical nightmare and an invitation to fraud, as British officials struggled to track the final destination of every imported widget and foodstuff so the correct tariffs could be charged. The infrastructure required would take years to install, delaying Brexit indefinitely. Needless to say, this bureaucratic fudge was devised in Whitehall, by Mrs May’s Europhile Brexit adviser Olly Robbins. Only a civil servant could believe the answer to freeing up cross-border trade is even more red tape. This paper has had its differences with Mr Johnson but on this issue he is absolutely right. The customs partnership makes a mockery of taking back control and risks the worst of all options – staying tied to Brussels but unable to make our own trade deals…
Theresa May – must stand firm. Last week’s local election successes in Leave-voting areas showed the public still trust the Tories to deliver a clean Brexit. Yes, Labour wreckers, misguided Tory rebels, Europhile civil servants and Remainer Lords (many of whom receive EU pensions) will use every weapon they have to frustrate the will of the people. But even if Mrs May did concede to staying in some form of customs union, they would simply demand more and more concessions until the referendum vote was effectively overturned. Facing down this unholy anti-Brexit alliance will be a strong test of the Prime Minister’s nerve. If British democracy is to be upheld, it’s a test she must not fail.”
If Number 10 hadn’t got the message, Quentin Letts is explicit:
“The Prime Minister, while publicly reiterating her determination to leave the single market and the customs union, is prevaricating in private. She allows her Downing Street team, who for the main part were Remain supporters, to continue with their crazy appeasement of Brussels with this customs partnership proposal… Under Conservative party rules, it needs only 48 MPs to trigger a vote of confidence in Theresa May’s leadership. If she green-lights customs partnership, that will happen within hours. I fear she simply has no idea how angry Brexiteers are about this plan, or about the Whitehall establishment’s continuing attempts to stymie Brexit. The mood is one of tranquil resolve: if the Prime Minister tries this outrageous anti-democratic move, it’s off-with-her-head.”
There is also a warning for Gavin Williamson, the Brexit sub-committee ‘Brexiter’ most likely to waver and switch sides – he is dubbed “wobbly” Williamson – and Sajid Javid. Quentin notes they would be “slaughtered” and “could immediately forget any dreams of being leader” if they rat on this.
Number 10 are mad if they think this is just Boris sounding off. It is also a majority of the Brexit sub-committee, Nick Timothy, the ERG, seemingly every Brexiter, and the Daily Mail, the paper May has relied on for support for years. If they can’t see that…