Theresa May’s Brexit war Cabinet and the great Chequers fudge

Written by Kevin Schofield on 23 February 2018 in Diary

Nobody resigned as the Brexit war Cabinet met in Buckinghamshire. But what got into Michael Gove?

Was it ever likely to end any other way? After eight hours of talks, the 11 members of Theresa May’s Brexit war Cabinet finally emerged from Chequers with a good old-fashioned compromise agreement stuck together with bits of Sellotape and splodges of Blu-Tac.

“Divergence has won,” said one Cabinet source in a sign that the Brexiteers believed they had come out on top.

But before Boris Johnson looks out his best pair of celebratory Union Jack boxers, it also emerged that the meeting agreed to ask Brussels for ‘mutual recognition’ of standards on manufactured goods as a way of staying as close as possible to the single market without actually being in it - a key demand of Remainers like Philip Hammond.

Writing shortly after the meeting broke up at 10pm, the Spectator’s James Forsyth stated: "I am informed that Theresa May’s view expressed at the meeting is closer to the Boris Johnson position than the Philip Hammond one.

"However, I am also told that there were ‘no winners’; unsurprisingly, no one is getting everything that they wanted. In the words of one insider, ‘everyone gave some ground’.”

In truth, with such a deeply split Cabinet and no majority to speak of, the PM could do little else but play both ends against the middle in an attempt to present some sort of united front to Brussels. To that end at least, it looks as though she’s been successful.

More details of precisely what went on at the PM’s country residence are likely to leak out during the day, while May herself will set out the Government’s official negotiating position in a major speech at the end of next week. Then the hard work of getting Brussels to agree to any of it - and deciding what the UK is willing to give up in return - really begins.



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