The Brexit “war cabinet” broke up without an agreement early this week as ministers continued to openly challenge the post-EU withdrawal trade agreement but settled on a new “backstop” to avoid a hard Irish border.
Despite the disapproval of lead Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Micheal Gove, the ministers signed off the plans on Tuesday.
The news immediately concerned Eurosceptics with Jacob Rees-Mogg saying: “The risk of the Government using all its mental energy on the fallback position is that they create a position that is more attractive than a permanent deal.
“We have gone from a clear endpoint, to an extension, to a proposed further extension with no endpoint.
BRITAIN will tell Brussels it is willing to stay in the EU customs union beyond 2021
“The horizon seems to be unreachable. The bottom of the rainbow seems to be unattainable.
“People voted to leave, they did not vote for a perpetual purgatory.”
According to sources from pro-European Cabinet ministers, Mr Johnson and Mr Gove were “outgunned” during the meeting but reluctantly accepted the plans.
Mr Gove expressed his criticism and said the EU will use the Northern Ireland border to “hold hostage” and keep the UK in the single market and customs union after Brexit.
The outcome of the latest meeting is Britain will not leave the customs union if highly complex technology required to operate the borders after Brexit is not ready.
But sources revealed this “last resort” will strictly be “time-limited” and Britain will still be able to implement trade deals outside the EU.
Mr Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis also made clear their objections.
Their preference would be an alternative proposal called “maximum facilitation”, which involves a customs border being created between the UK and the EU but with the aim to create a border that is as frictionless as possible.
Jacob Rees-Mogg said people did not vote for this perpetual purgatory
Mr Gove esaid the EU will use the Northern Ireland border to “hold hostage”
According to the Government paper this option might work by negotiating a waiver with the EU so that entry and exit declarations would not have to be submitted for goods being moved between the UK and the EU.
But senior EU sources said the UK would have to agree to temporarily remain in a customs union to secure a breakthrough in talks.
A source from Brussels said Theresa May “could say ‘we are going for a MaxFac customs arrangements and they are going to be ‘great’, but it’s going to take several years. In the meantime, we will stay in the customs union’.”
On Wednesday Mrs May warned pro-European Tory MPs the “integrity” of British politics could be at risk if they voted against the Government on Brexit.