Britain's Gove says Brexit plan is a realistic compromise

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Theresa May has shown strength and courage in facing down Tory Brexiteers to get Cabinet agreement on pursuing a de-facto single market in goods with the European Union after Brexit without so much as a squeak from Ministers.

The Prime Minister emerged from the meeting, saying her cabinet had agreed a collective position for the future of Britain's negotiations with the EU.

Brexiteer Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted the plan was not everything he had hoped for, but he was a "realist" and the Prime Minister's lack of a Commons majority meant the "parliamentary arithmetic" was a factor in deciding what could be adopted.

Commentators said alignment on goods could reduce the UK's flexibility to strike trade deals with other countries, particularly the USA which would want an agreement allowing its farm products, produced to different standards, into the British market.

Analysts suspect this is bad news, though they await the full White Paper this week.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the influential European Research Group of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, warned that a common rulebook could make "trade deals nearly impossible" if it meant regulations would have to apply to any goods coming into the UK.

"As with eggs: An egg that is very softly boiled isn't boiled at all".

John Longworth, a chairman of campaign group Leave Means Leave, accused May of personally deceiving Brexit campaigners.

The Sun newspaper's political editor Tom Newton-Dunn said on Twitter that it appeared that there was the possibility of a move against Mrs May as prime minister starting.

But former UKIP leader Nigel Farage attacked the Prime Minister's blueprint and said the plan amounted to a "sell-out to global corporates" and would do nothing for the 90 percent of British firms which do not export to Europe.

The Prime Minister will address Tory MPs on Monday and her chief of staff Gavin Barwell has been engaged in efforts to explain the Chequers deal to concerned colleagues alongside Chief Whip Julian Smith.

He said the briefings "will massively calm the nerves of people who have been basing their views on the speculation that has been floating around in the media and social media".

The document has not been endorsed by the ERG but was "devastating", a Brexiteer source said.

Mr Gove was not the only Cabinet minister trying to win over critics.

"They wanted us to stop sending the vast sums of money every year to the European Union that we do today, and so take control of our money, our laws and our borders - and that's exactly what we will do. One of the things about this compromise is that it unites the Cabinet".

British Prime Minister Theresa May secured cabinet agreement on Friday for her plans to leave the European Union, overcoming rifts among her ministers to win support for "a business-friendly" proposal aimed at spurring stalled Brexit talks.

Mr Davis had disagreed with the PM's plans for keeping European Union rules for goods and adopting a close customs partnership with the other 27 member countries.

"Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the United Kingdom legal order".

There had been talk of resignations over the plan, which could keep Britain tied to the bloc for years after Brexit, even if officials stress parliament would reserve the right to diverge. Such a proposal would nearly certainly be rejected by the EU.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Saturday the new plan may well "unravel" in the coming days.

"It would amount to the British government tying the hands of British business".

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