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Thursday 10 May 2018

According to allies of Michael Gove who backs the “maximum facilitation” option for an invisible, but regulated border within Ireland, the Environment Secretary is happy for the transition period to continue until the necessary technology to implement it is available. Gove is expected to push this agenda in reply to the prime minister’s preferred, but even more disastrous “new customs partnership” at the next Cabinet customs showdown, now scheduled for next Tuesday.

With that on the horizon pressure is mounting on Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson to opt for the customs partnership after he helped to temporarily veto the plan at the last gathering of the inner Brexit Cabinet. Tory Brexiteers warn Williamson that a redefection to the Remainers in the sub-committee would amount to “political suicide”.

It would, not least because the customs partnership is unworkable and has already been dismissed as “magic thinking” by the EU, which means the likes of Gove and other soft Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and David Davis have every chance of persuading the Remain voting prime minister to ditch her ideas and go for max-fac. Frying pan and fire spring to mind.

The EU will be only too willing to oblige in keeping Britain tethered to Brussels over an interminable period, but will have no interest a new high-tech border dividing Ireland in two, even if the separation is invisible to the casual commuter. Note, The European Commission is trying to force through a bumper eight-year budget without UK cash. The end-of-transition date is set to coincide with the end of the current budget period. Any extension would incur major costs to British taxpayers – we would not only continue to make net transfers to Brussels’ coffers, the sums would be even larger.

Quote of the day: The Lords “are completely obsessed by the European Union. They are people who have devoted their whole life to it.” Who else, but Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The government yesterday published a worryingly expansive proposal for a UK-EU security partnership of “unprecedented scale and depth”.

The government wants Britain to remain attached to all aspects of the EU’s ever-growing security infrastructure, both internally and externally. The EU “can take a more adaptable approach in which we jointly deliver the operational capability that we need to tackle the ever-evolving threats to our shared security,” said David Davis, whose department published the paper, adding: “There is no legal or operational reason why such an agreement could not be reached.”

This is particularly concerning when set against Politico’s latest EU defence scoop: plans are afoot for its new military pact, PESCO, which came into being shortly after the referendum to accommodate the defence capabilities of other nations, particularly the US, the UK and Norway.

No good can come from this.