Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen
Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, told the Today programme this morning that the Conservative party would not accept a Brexit compromise that involved the UK staying in a permanent customs union with the EU (which is what Labour wants). He told the programme:
I don’t think parliament would actually accept the concept of a permanent customs union for a whole range of reasons that I’ve set out – and I don’t think it would be acceptable inside the Conservative party.
Of course we do have a temporary customs union inside the implementation period, that is already accepted, but one of the reasons that we embarked on this particular process was so that we would be out of these arrangements by the time we got to the next general election.
I don’t know because I can’t speak for the individual MPs involved and whether they think that is a determining step in the process, but we certainly need to get the argument across to the whole of the House of Commons that at the referendum almost three years ago they were given an instruction by voters – why have they not carried it out?
Theresa May has said that she wants to get her Brexit plan through parliament before the summer recess, and that she will stand down as prime minister after that, implying that if the deal goes through, she will resigning towards the end of July. And she has also said that the key make-or-break vote on her Brexit legislation will come in the first week of June, implying that if she loses the vote, she will be gone very soon afterwards. (She has not confirmed the explicitly, but it is very hard to see how she could survive in those circumstances.)
But some in her party want even more clarity about her departure plans. The executive of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee wants her to say explicitly what will happen if MPs do not pass her Brexit deal, and they are meeting her this morning. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the committee, said at the weekend that it would be “strange” if his executive got to the end of the meeting without a “clear understanding” of when she would be going, which sounded faintly menacing, and in private some of his colleagues have been more brutal, saying that they will tell her to stand down immediately if she does not name a date for her departure.