Theresa May headed for Cabinet showdown over Brexit

Eloise Todd

The Environment Secretary Michel Gove yesterday joined Johnson in publicly criticising May's preferred option of establishing a so-called "customs partnership" with the EU.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt appeared to endorse the idea yesterday.

Mr Green, who was sacked in December after a Cabinet Office inquiry found he had breached the ministerial code, told BBC Radio Four's The Westminster Hour: 'This is not the time for members of the Cabinet or anyone else inside the Conservative Party to indulge in ideology. 'This is a very, very hard situation that we're in as a country but it's got great opportunities for us.

"As in any negotiation, there will have to be compromises", May wrote.

'I, personally, am not yet convinced that you could have that in place by the end of 2020, at the end of the implementation period, and, therefore, you might need to bolt-on to that another period, a sort of transition period into that, so that we know not only that it works, but that it works from day one.

His comments came as the Prime Minister insisted she could be trusted to deliver on Brexit. "That's not taking back control of your trade policy, it's not taking back control of your laws, it's not taking back control of your borders and it's actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels". It would also mean close alignment of regulations.

Under pressure from the European Union to move forward with talks on the future partnership that will follow its exit from the bloc, Britain must first settle on a customs proposal to present to skeptical negotiators in Brussels.

'And with the new customs partnership, Boris pointed out that because it's novel, because no model like this exists, there have to be significant question marks over the deliverability of it on time. "They're what they say on the tin, but the tin is a lacklustre shade of grey".

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He rejected the possibility of delaying the customs deal, a proposal raised by Tory MP Nick Boles last week. One said: "Isn't it time for her to give it a Dignitas death rather than this horror show that is just going on and on".

Mrs May has divided the Cabinet into two groups to consider the customs options being looked into.

They are expected to make a presentation to the Brexit "war committee" tomorrow and submit a written paper next week - meaning no decision is likely this week.

Mrs May said in March that in the case of the Irish border, smaller traders would be allowed to operate as they do now with no new restrictions.

One point which has been much discussed during the process of negotiating the UK's withdrawal from the European Union is what will happen on the Irish border, the UK's only land border with the rest of the EU.

But DUP MP Sammy Wilson branded him "belligerent, interfering and Brit bashing", adding: 'The fact is the border issues can all be dealt with by technology but Coveney and Co have stuck their heads in the sand, refusing to even consider this solution because it doesn't suit his aggressive republican agenda.

But the first minister said he does not believe the United Kingdom government's options were compatible with Downing Street's desire to continue without a hard border in Ireland.

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