Tuesday, November 30

PM Theresa May called Dominate Cabinet’s meeting about Brexit



Brexit will dominate a special Cabinet away day at Chequers as Theresa May and her ministers meet for the first time since their summer break.

The Prime Minister will use the meeting to attempt to resolve a bitter split between senior Cabinet ministers over the deal Britain wants to leave the European Union.

It has been claimed she intends to “bang a few heads together” to halt feuding between the so-called “Three Brexiteers”: Liam Fox, David Davis and Boris Johnson.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is also at odds with Dr Fox and Mr Davis because he wants the Government to try to retain its membership of Europe’s single market after Brexit.

Other big issues on the Chequers Cabinet agenda will include:

:: Hinkley Point C – The PM has launched an inquiry into the project before giving it the go-ahead, amid concerns about security and value for money

:: Social reforms – Mrs May has promised “a country that works for everyone” and set up a Cabinet committee which will meet on Thursday with housing and racial inequality on its agenda

:: Heathrow – The long-delayed decision on whether to back a third runway – or other options such as expanding Gatwick – has been promised in the autumn

:: Industrial strategy – Mrs May wants the UK to become the best country in the world for innovative firms and transforming scientific discoveries into successful businesses.

There will be a full Cabinet meeting at 10.30am which will be attended by senior Whitehall officials – and after lunch, a “political cabinet” without civil servants is set to commence.

This session will be dominated by planning for the Tory conference in Birmingham, the first under Mrs May’s leadership, with new party chairman Patrick McLoughlin unveiling his proposals.

At the morning meeting, according to Downing Street insiders, Brexit will be “top of the In tray” and each minister has been ordered to outline how they will “make the most of Brexit” in their own department.

Civil servants have been asked to assess the impact of a wide range of Brexit scenarios, from full membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) to a system under which some Europeans would need visas just to enjoy a holiday in Britain.

It is claimed some officials at the Foreign Office are pushing for “as much Europe as possible” while others in the Home Office are reluctant to consider full EEA membership or single market access because their priority is an immigration clampdown.

On the eve of the Chequers meeting, Downing Street said the PM had ruled out holding a second referendum on the Brexit deal with the European Union – and stamped down on speculation that she could hold a general election before 2020.

“The Prime Minister is very clear there will be no second referendum,” said a Number 10 spokesman. “There is no need for a general election either.”

The spokesman also effectively ruled out the prospect of MPs being given a vote on the Brexit deal or the timing of Article 50, which is the formal trigger for the two-year exit negotiations to begin.

He said Parliament “will have a say on the situation going forward” – killing any suggestion that pro-EU MPs may be able to veto Brexit in the Commons.

“Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of the referendum in the first place,” the spokesman added.