Michael Gove Deals Another Blow To May's 'Flawed' Brexit Customs Plan

Michael Gove Deals Another Blow To May's 'Flawed' Brexit Customs Plan

Michael Gove Deals Another Blow To May's 'Flawed' Brexit Customs Plan

The splits were laid bare last week when Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson dismissed as "crazy" one of May's proposals for future European Union customs arrangements.

"I trust the Prime Minister to do what she says she will do".

May's preferred option, the customs partnership, was reportedly rejected at a meeting of her senior ministers last week, while Brussels has also condemned it as "magical thinking". The foreign secretary dismissed the proposal as "crazy", saying it would deny Britain control of trade policy.

It is one of two post-Brexit trade options under consideration by the Cabinet, with the other - dubbed "maximum facilitation", or "max fac" - seeing the United Kingdom relying on technology to streamline customs processes with the EU.

The Tory MP, who is also chair of the Treasury Select Committee, also criticised the other proposal being put forward, and said: "It seems to me that's what's called the maximum facilitation - which seems to rely on future technology not yet invented - would absolutely basically be a deal in name only because it doesn't talk about an enduring relationship with the European Union, which I think is what the Prime Minister said she wanted to create, and it causes enormous problems on the island of Ireland".

News has learned that the cabinet's Brexit subcommittee has formed working groups to look over each of the two proposals for a new customs deal.

While both options remain alive, insiders believe the decision to appoint Mr Davis to lead work on finding an alternative suggests support for the customs partnership idea is slipping away.

Theresa May has extended her party's lead over Jeremy Corbyn to five points, according to a poll.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a leading pro-Brexit campaigner, said her customs partnership idea had "flaws", though he also acknowledged that neither plan was flawless.

It came as former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson said the party could spend a further 18 years out of office and called for more moderate socialism.

"I don't believe in an extension", he said.

In what was being seen as a very public challenge to the Prime Minister's stance, Mr Johnson used an interview with the Daily Mail to warn that the customs partnership option would create a "whole new web of bureaucracy". A second plan, known as "maximum facilitation" or Max Fac, would set up a looser relationship between the two trading partners and use technology to minimize disruption and border checks.

One Whitehall source said: 'Obviously she is ultimately the boss and will have the final say.

Meanwhile, ministers were yesterday accused of delaying vital Brexit legislation after Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed the EU Withdrawal Bill would not be brought back to the Commons in the next fortnight.

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