If you want to know how fractious things are getting in the Cabinet just consider this. On Tuesday, as I report in the new issue of the magazine, Claire Perry, the energy minister, accused others in the Cabinet of using the discussion over the backstop to advance their own leadership ambitions. This is a remarkable charge to hurl against a fellow member of the Cabinet.
Those present took this barb to be aimed at Jeremy Hunt. He had led the charge on the need for an escape clause from the backstop that the EU couldn’t unilaterally stop the UK from triggering. But, in a rather comic turn, the Foreign Secretary missed Perry’s dig at him as he had slipped out to change into his morning suit ahead of a meeting with the Dutch royal family.
Many on those on the Remain wing of the Tory party are fuming at Hunt, who they accuse of posturing to the Brexiteers since becoming Foreign Secretary. They argue that he campaigned for Remain and so his new positioning is inauthentic. Personally, I’m not sure this charge is quite fair. Given Hunt’s vision for the UK economy—he’d like the UK to be much more entrepreneurial and tech-based—you can see why he doesn’t want the UK stuck in a backstop that it is almost impossible to get out of.