Boris Johnson told to shut up and keep criticism of Theresa May's Brexit plans private or EU will ‘exploit’ our divisions

Opening up a fresh rift in the Government today Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the Foreign Secretary a stark slap-down after he called Theresa May's customs partnership plan "crazy" last week.

The Prime Minister's cabinet are bickering over which customs plan to put in place after we leave the EU next year.

Brexiteers are backing a model called "max fac" but Mrs May wants to push a customs partnership, dividing her top team.

But today Mr Hunt demanded that critics of the Prime Minister keep their reservations private as to avoid embarrassing her in public.

He told Radio 4's Today programme: ""I do think that it is important that we have these debates in private.

"Not just because of collective responsibility, which is what democracy depends on, but also because this is a negotiation.

"On the EU side, if they see divisions in the open, they will exploit that."

Mr Hunt said that Boris had a "very important role" to play because he was the "architect of the whole Brexit campaign", but urged him to give the PM some space to work out the best option for Britain.

"If we are going to have these lively debates, we should have them in private because that will strengthen Theresa May's negotiating hand," he added.

Yesterday Mr Johnson's Brexiteer ally, Michael Gove, joined him in slamming Mrs May's plans.

The plan looked all-but dead after he said the PM's favourite option has "significant question marks" over it.

Mrs May will convene another meeting of her war cabinet this week to try and agree a united position on Brexit customs.

But today's cabinet row comes as one of her allies, ex-deputy PM Damian Green, said he thought that Leave-backers would ultimately win the argument.

He told the BBC last night: "I think the most likely endpoint will be some of what's called the maximum facilitation, some variant of that."

And he also expressed doubt on whether that could be put in place by the end of the transition period at the end of 2020.

Customs confusion: Options for post-Brexit trade explained

ONE of the key planks of the European Union is the customs union which all member countries – currently including the UK – must belong to.

It means there are no tariffs on goods going between EU states, and they all enforce the same standards for goods imported from outside Europe.

Some pro-EU politicians want Britain to stay in the customs unionafter Brexit – but that has been ruled out by Theresa May, because it would stop us striking any new trade deals with the rest of the world.

Last year, the PM set out two possible paths for the future customs relationship between Britain and Europe.

One option is the "customs partnership" – which would mirror many aspects of the existing customs union.

It would see the UK collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for any goods which enter Britain on their way to the continent.

The advantage of that would be no border checks would be needed between the UK and EU, particularly on the key Irish border, but Brexiteers worry it would tie us too closely to Europe.

The alternative is known as "maximum facilitation" – a hi-tech arrangement where automated systems check goods as they flow across borders in a way which helps business trade freely.

But EU bosses have cast doubt on whether the right technology exists to make that solution work.

While the row may seem technical, many Brexit backers regard it as crucial for the UK to take total control of our trade and customs arrangements, or risk making our EU departure pointless.

Theresa May faces a major challenge finding a solution which is acceptable for both hardline Eurosceptics and the pro-EU Tory rebels.

Mr Green, who was booted after issuing misleading statements over porn on his computer, said: "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.

"That's really important, and I think that's more important than any ideological posturing that seems to be going on over this."

  • GOT a politics story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article