I’ve been saying it for a while; the cabinet doesn’t like Mrs. May’s Brexit plans, the EU doesn’t like them, Labour doesn’t like them, and the voters don’t like them.
Now, it’s finally catching up with the Prime Minister, and she’s just been given the weekend to change her Brexit plans to avoid a Cabinet walkout. Of course, she may choose not to make any changes – she is a “bloody difficult woman” after all – but who knows what new hell that would bring to her doorstep?
A senior Cabinet source has told Business Insider that the Prime Minister is now facing a “killer moment” in the Brexit talks, and that Brexiteers within the Cabinet are not happy with her refusal to put a definite end-point on her plans for the backstop.
The fear being, of course, that Britain might be stuck in the Customs Union for the foreseeable future while the UK and the EU battle it out over trade deals for goodness knows how long.
But, Downing Street has insisted already that the government is not going to sign any deal with the EU that would keep the UK in its Customs Union indefinitely – a start for Mrs. May in her attempt at keeping her Cabinet together.
The national press is reporting that British negotiators over in Brussels have been planning to sign up to a new backstop option that would keep the whole of the UK in the Customs Union to stop Britain being divided from Northern Ireland.
So it’s not clear who to believe right now – all we know is that the Prime Minister has two days to sort out this mess that could have been solved a long time ago.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and the European Research Group have already put forward plans for a Canada-plus deal that could solve the issues, but it remains unclear whether May will eventually concede it’s the best option we have.
The Canada-plus deal is an expansion of the current Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that integrates EU and Canadian markets.
The “+” element refers to the greater liberalization of the trade in services, and the inclusion of financial services within the agreement. This boosts the British economy, puts us on a good footing on the world economic stage, and could even solve the NI/GB issue.
Mogg and his colleagues at the ERG propose a technological solution at the NI/Republic border that could make the CETA+ option extremely desirable for Britain.
It all depends on how stubborn Mrs. May is feeling. It seems like she saves her stubbornness for the British people, rather than the Eurocrats who are knocking back every proposal that she offers. That surely won’t go down well with her Cabinet, and if she makes the wrong decision, they could be gone by Monday.
Meanwhile, the October UK/EU summit is round the corner – and it’s looking increasingly likely there’ll be an emergency summit in November to finalize whatever deal the government manages to scrape together.