by John Ward
Is push at last coming to shove on the question of ‘real’ Brexit being delivered? Backstop plans to keep all of Ireland in the customs union after Brexit have now morphed into a plan to keep all of the UK in it. Yesterday, May showed her Cabinet plans that have left Leavers worried about the lack of even a time limit in the draft plans. This morning she has been meeting with David Davis in her Commons Rooms, and it seems that this meeting is now over.
Yesterday, Westminster was awash with strong rumours that, if the situation isn’t resolved before the PM leaves for the G7 summit in Canada this afternoon, Brexit secretary David Davis will resign.
If he does resign, Theresa May will drop out of the G7 session.
I suspect that both Whitehall and its counterparts in Brussels had exactly that outcome in mind when discussing how to deal with the ‘Irish Border’ issue. The last thing the European Commission wants is a solution to the issue, which was kicked down the road at the end of last year as “an agreement to look for an agreement later on”.
Today so far, it looks like things are going down to the wire. There was meant to be a form of Cabinet meeting scheduled for 9.30 am BST, but as of 10.15 am, nothing has happened….because May herself is one-to-one with May elsewhere.
Former Brexit minister David Jones is desperate for Davis not to quit, calling him “one of the UK’s biggest assets at the negotiating table” with Brussels. “To contemplate these negotiations continuing without David Davis would be deeply upsetting and deeply dangerous for the country and David Davis needs to stay where he is.”
However, Davis is also apparently hacked off that publication of his White Paper on Brexit will now not appear until after the upcoming Parliamentary votes on the current Brexit negotiating stance – a likelihood brought up by Jeremy Corbyn at PMQs yesterday, during which exchange May persistently evaded giving a publication date.
A number of Brexiteers now fear a ‘Whiteminster’ stitch-up designed to keep the UK inside the customs union….and then a Second Referendum if Labour returns to power.
Davis has threatened resignation on several other occasions, and then backed off. But the Prime Minister seems not to grasp that, if caught between the Third Reich and the USSR, sooner or later one or the other will boot her out.
This is a crucial day for both her and the Brexit the 52% voted for in 2016.