Tory backbenchers have been briefed today by the Prime Minister on the different options for Britain’s customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit. There was a presentation on the two different plans, and a summary which one MP who attended described as ‘everything is just going terribly well’. The expression on this MP’s face suggested that he didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.
These briefings are taking place as the two working groups in Cabinet meet to discuss the two options set before MPs today: the ‘max fac’ solution or the new customs partnership. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman refused to say which model the Prime Minister prefers: though the new customs partnership is often referred to by MPs and members of the Cabinet as ‘the Prime Minister’s idea’, Damian Green’s comments on last night’s Westminster Hour where the former de facto deputy prime minister suggested that ‘max fac’ might win the day have set tongues wagging about whether he is in fact pitch-rolling on her behalf for a change of stance.
Either way, it sounds as though no-one is very hopeful that there will be a resolution to the deadlock on customs any time soon. The Number 10 spokesman said there was no timeframe for the working groups presenting their findings, which has the short-term benefit of Downing Street being able to tell Tory MPs that ‘everything is just going terribly well’ and the long-term problem of building up the animosity between ministers about the outcome.