‘Divergence has won the day’, a source told me after the inner Cabinet’s Brexit away day at Chequers. I am informed that Theresa May’s view expressed at the meeting is closer to the Boris Johnson position than the Philip Hammond one.
However, I am also told that there were ‘no winners’; unsurprisingly, no one is getting everything that they wanted. In the words of one insider, ‘everyone gave some ground’.
But I understand there is now a position that May can present to the Cabinet next week. This is based around the UK’s opening position being that it wants mutual recognition on goods standards. However, the UK will declare that it intends to maintain standards, and that there’ll be no race to deregulate. I also understand that the UK will put forward that there should be a dispute settlement mechanism, which is not the European Court of Justice, which will manage the process of divergence.
Now, there is many a slip twixt cup and lip and the actual speech text might turn out to be milder than today’s meeting suggested. It is also worth remembering that the inner Cabinet today were only agreeing the UK’s opening position in the negotiation; which is going to be quite a way from what the final deal will be. But it does seem that today’s meeting marked a swing in the Cabinet Brexiteer’s direction.