Published: Thu, October 25, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

The long good-bye: Theresa May's Brexit transition plan could last for years

The long good-bye: Theresa May's Brexit transition plan could last for years

British Prime Minister Theresa May lost control over the warring factions within her government as the Cabinet descended into open conflict over her Brexit plans at an angry meeting on Tuesday.

May was addressing a meeting of her party's "1922 Committee" of backbench lawmakers. One told The Sunday Times that the prime minister had entered "the killing zone" this week, while another told The Mail on Sunday that she should "bring her own noose" if she went to the 1922 Committee meeting.

Around 46 letters of no confidence have been submitted to the influential committee - just short of the 48 needed to trigger a leadership contest, Sky News reported.

Yet, there were signs that a series of lurid briefings over the weekend by unnamed backbenchers calling for her to be "knifed" had backfired, causing MPs to rally behind her.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said "to say that things have gone very wrong is an understatement".

At least forty of them are threatening to vote against her Brexit deal if and when it's agreed, if it keeps Britain in a form of customs union with the EU.

During a meeting that lasted almost two hours on Tuesday, "impassioned" speeches were made by several ministers as the Cabinet divided between those willing to compromise and those taking a more hardline stance.

Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said the research "shows just how essential smooth border traffic is in Northern Ireland, and why it is so essential for Theresa May and the European Union to sort this mess out".

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The government has yet to begin discussions with the European Commission (EC) on data sharing between the United Kingdom and EU post-Brexit, according to digital minister Margot James.

She will tell MPs that since last month's fractious summit in Salzburg, "important progress" has been made on issues like security, transport and services.

The BVA president also warned that Northern Ireland could face shortages of vets in some areas after Brexit, as a high proportion of its workforce comes from the Republic of Ireland and further afield in the EU.

Britain can not accept Northern Ireland being in a separate customs territory from the rest of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Tuesday.

The government's Border Delivery Group (BDG) only began detailed planning work in relation to Northern Ireland in July, the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed.

"That is, we have a backstop that gives us an assurance that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland no matter what happens, that that backstop is legally operable and that applies unless and until there is a new agreement".

"The shape of the deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement is now clear", she said.

James acknowledged the importance of ensuring that an adequacy decision - a legal framework for the flow of data between countries - is in place as soon as possible, but said it is up to the EC when this will happen.

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