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Monday 30 April 2018

With Donald Trump helping to set Korea to rights and Amber Rudd stepping down after yet another week of Windrush scandal Brexit has taken a backseat, but not for long.

The Lords are back with a vengeance this afternoon with yet another damaging amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. This one has been tabled by Viscount Hailsham and demand that “the future of our country should be determined by Parliament.” in other words, Parliament will take charge of the renegotiation in the event Theresa May’s deal with Brussels is struck down. Appallingly, the government should expect yet another defeat.

One man not happy with this state of affairs is David Davis who in today’s Sun complains:

“This [amendment] is quite frankly, nonsensical — because nothing in this negotiation is agreed until everything is agreed.”

The European Commission would receive a “clear incentive to delay the negotiations or present unacceptable propositions until the deadline has passed and the Government is stripped of its ability to negotiate freely,” adds the Brexit Secretary.

Davis himself has work to do this week. The inner ‘Brexit War Cabinet’ is meeting to hammer out a position on Britain’s future customs arrangement with the EU, something that should have been done months ago.

Until last night, Amber Rudd was a powerful Remainer force within this grouping. Nigel Farage has rightly called for a Leaver to take her place, “no excuses” he tweeted. However, Sajid Javid, a Eurosceptic who voted Remain, is the firm favourite to be Britain’s newest Secretary of State. An improvement on Rudd certainly, but not ideal.

On Friday, gleaning various reports from the press, Brexit Brunch reported Downing Street’s convoluted idea of a fudged Customs Union with the EU, called the ‘customs partnership’ (watch this clip for an explanation) was under fire, and likely to be dismissed at this week’s War Cabinet meeting. However, the FT reports Theresa May is sticking with the plan, daring Brexiteers in her Cabinet to defy her – note the minister trying to explain the customs partnership in the video clip is Steve Barker, supposedly an arch-Leaver.

“All the soundings coming out of Number 10 suggest she will back the hybrid model,” one senior Eurosceptic figure told the FT, another Cabinet source said the PM was moving in that direction. Hard to believe when you consider the proposal has been described as “bonkers”, “cretinous” and a “disaster” in the making by senior Tories. Even the government admits it is “unprecedented” and “challenging to implement”. The EU meanwhile has rejected it in principle.

We should add that the customs partnership does not assure a resolution to the lingering Irish border issue, goods would still have to be tracked to determine whether they are going onwards into the Single Market, or the UK only.

“The customs union option currently favoured by No. 10 would be a disaster,” another Cabinet minister has told the Sun.

“It is so fiendishly complicated that most trade experts have derided it.

“It is not too late for the PM to change her mind and get back to the vision of Lancaster House.”

Following an op-ed in the Sunday Times yesterday by Richard Tice and pro-independence businessman John Longworth outing Oliver Robbins as a Remainer fifth columnist, May’s Brexit Sherpa is receiving increasing attention for pedalling Downing Street’s feeble customs partnership model with his chums in Brussels where he is now a regular fixture.

All is not lost however, the Express reports today that if May deviates too far from her original Lancaster House position with a fudge over customs, David Davis, among others will resign from the Cabinet, which will act as the trigger for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

“If the result of Wednesday’s meeting goes the wrong way then he will quit,” said an ally of Davis.

“But he will not be the only one and there are others who are even more likely to resign than he is.”

A senior Tory MP corroborated those comments, saying Davis would be “one of many resignations from the government” if Mrs May betrays Brexit, which would then act as a signal for disgruntled Tory backbenchers to secure a vote of no confidence via the 1922 committee against their beleaguered leader.

Finally, Politico report Labour are now trying to grapple with the competing forces among their swelling ranks of traditional socialists and millennial globalists. Labour’s high command are figuring out how to meet the demands of grassroots supporters baying for an internal referendum. The Party’s hierarchy have “initiated discussions”, says one senior Labour figure involved.