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Theresa May’s great Brexit brainstorm starts today

31 August 2016

8:05 AM

31 August 2016

8:05 AM

Summer is over. Or at least as far as Theresa May is concerned it is, as the PM gathers her cabinet at Chequers today to talk business about Brexit. It’s the most important gathering of her time in office so far and a chance to spell out an action plan for Britain’s departure from the EU. She put a stop yesterday to talk of a second referendum and today she has repeated her pledge that there won’t be an attempt to ‘sort of stay in the EU by the back door’. But whilst those words are a reassurance of what won’t happen, today’s meeting is also a chance for the PM to thrash out what she hopes will happen over the weeks and months ahead. It’s also an important opportunity for each cabinet minister to spell out the ‘opportunities’ of Brexit: this is the key to making Brexit a success. Whilst ‘Project Fear’ is rapidly unravelling, there’s still work to be done to convince some that Brexit is an opportunity rather than a hurdle. Today’s meeting will be a chance for each cabinet minister to talk up the benefits of Brexit. So having heard repeatedly that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, hopefully after today we’ll get a clearer picture of exactly what that means.

 

The meeting is more than just a chance to strategise though. There has been numerous reports over the last few weeks of tensions bubbling up between Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies. They all head up departments which will have a key role in what happens next (with Boris in the Foreign Office; Fox, the international trade minister; and Davies as the ‘minister for Brexit’). This job title tension has already presented itself as something of a problem: earlier in August, Fox wrote to Boris (cc-ing in an unimpressed PM) attempting something of a power grab of the Foreign Office’s remit. Fox failed in his task and this attempt ended in something of a sticky compromise between the two. But whilst big personalities didn’t help, it’s fair to say the vacuum of the summer recess was a catalyst in this tension, as idle thumbs made themselves busy. Now that summer is over and following Boris’s promise to knuckle down to work, today is his – and his rivals – first opportunity to prove it to the Prime Minister.


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