As Downing Street’s Remainer Brexit supremo Olly Robbins further blurs the Prime Minister’s red lines, Guido cannot help but ask where are the Cabinet Brexiters?
- Single market: According to the front page of today’s Times, Robbins is now saying there is no chance of the UK striking a bespoke deal with Brussels and that Downing Street is now favouring a Norway-style Brexit inside the single market. This would be a clear betrayal of the result and mean a sellout on free movement. At the very least Number 10 is considering asking to stay in the single market for goods. May told Brexiters we would be completely outside the single market.
- Customs union: Robbins’ hybrid plan is a customs union in all but name. Even if Number 10 choose MaxFac, staying in single market for goods ruins our ability to strike free trade deals with other countries. We would not have an independent trade policy. May told us we would be outside the customs union, not staying in it in all but name.
- Laws: It is now clear we will have to accept significant ECJ rulings after we leave, and that the ECJ will still effectively have some jurisdiction in the UK. If we stay in the single market for goods and pursue regulatory alignment, we will be a rule taker. This is arguably a worse situation than being a member of the EU, where at least you get a say. May told us we would be taking back control of laws.
- Transition: There is now significant talk the transition period could be extended. Brexiters only accepted the transition agreement after May promised it would be strictly time-limited to two years.
Among Cabinet Brexiters, Boris has at least put up a fight, repeatedly condemning the direction of the government and calling the hybrid model “crazy”. But what about the rest?
DD’s threat to resign was embarrassing, he has been outmanoeuvred and then publicly mocked by Robbins at every turn. He is in danger of going down as the Brexit Secretary that effectively kept us in single market and customs union. How can he live with that? How can Steve Baker and Suella Braverman? We hear about their threats to resign, we hear about Baker packing his things up and threatening to walk out. When will Dexeu actually do something to stand up to Robbins?
Gove has been strongly critical of Robbins’ hybrid model, and at least he did tear up the NCP document in front of civil servants. But it has not gone unnoticed that he has been painfully loyal to the government and has moderated his position on pretty much everything Brexit-related over the last year. After the referendum he was insisting the transition must last months not years – he never mentions that when he’s speaking and schmoozing at every Tory drinks party. The consensus is his motive for staying quiet is the leadership, softening his stance to get Remainers onside…
Fox, whose department is being made a mockery of by Number 10, has said and done nothing. It appears all he cares about is being in government. He seems to spend most of his time sending press releases about putting up England flags rather than worrying that his job has become pointless. Fox and Leadsom are even talking about extending the transition period, falling into the Remainer trap to keep us in forever.
UPDATE: A source close to Fox says: “Liam makes his passionate eurosceptic arguments around the cabinet table rather than in public because he believes that’s the way these things should be done”
Where is Grayling? Where is Mordaunt? Have they ever said anything about how they think Brexit is going? Are Cabinet Brexiters actually going to do anything this week, or roll over and let Olly Robbins push us into the softest of non-Brexits?