Boris Johnson calls UK's post-Brexit trade plan 'crazy'

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel speaking in the European Parliament today More

However, his public denouncement of plans being personally pushed by the prime minister is the clearest public test of her authority yet by a senior member of her cabinet and is likely to prompt a public response from May's spokesman when he appears before journalists on Tuesday lunchtime.

Mrs May's spokesman said: "There are two customs models that were put forward by the Government last August and most recently outlined in the Prime Minister's Mansion House speech which the entire Cabinet was signed up to".

The second variant, a partnership option, proposed by Theresa May, is preferred, in particular, by UK Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

They favour a maximum facilitation, or "max fac", scheme that would use technology and a "trusted trader" plan to reduce post-Brexit customs checks.

Brexiteers have rejected the customs partnership, claiming it would keep the United Kingdom too closely tied to Brussels and Mrs May's inner war cabinet is thought to have lined up six-five against it, despite the Prime Minister and Mr Clark backing the model.

"We don't believe that we have to stay in the customs union to have free flow between ourselves and the Republic of Ireland", Ms Foster said.

They say the Commons already has the chance to influence the detail of the final divorce arrangements because of an earlier amendment and fear the extra vote could jeopardise a move to remove the time and date of Britain's departure from the European Union from the face of the bill, which has almost completed its passage through the Lords.

Clark, who used the example of car-maker Toyota which relies on components crossing borders to manufacture cars in Britain, said businesses needed the certainty of what happens next, but warned that it could take some time not only to make a decision, but also to implement it once it had been agreed upon. "Hundreds of thousands of jobs across the United Kingdom depend on it", she added.

The BBC's political correspondent Alex Forsyth says the foreign secretary's comments will stoke tensions in the Conservative party.

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"That's not taking back control of your trade policy, it's not taking back control of your laws, it's not taking back control of your borders and it's actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels", he told the paper.

"The Customs Partnership has been roundly rejected, making threats to keep it alive is just desperate".

Mr Grieve has been an outspoken opponent of Brexit.

A Downing Street source dismissed as "nonsense" suggestions that Mr Clark's appearance and the support from pro-EU Tories had been orchestrated from No 10.

The Brexit-backing MP and leader of parliament's influential European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg, cosigned the comments Monday morning, writing on Twitter: "Boris hits the nail on the head".

Last week the Brexit sub committee met to discuss the options but failed to agree on a new model.

But pro-EU former business minister Anna Soubry urged Mrs May to "see off these ideologues who are blighting our party and blighting the Brexit process".

"What we would like to see from the European Union is less rhetoric and more engagement in relation to the pragmatic way forward", she said.

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