The Chair of the Treasury Select Committee says the transition will not be long enough—and takes a pop at Boris Johnson for good measureby Alex Dean / May 15, 2018 / Leave a comment
Should Britain stay close to the European Union or prioritise the freedom to strike its own trade deals? This question is currently tearing the government apart as it wrestles with the customs union and what should replace it: a “customs partnership” or “maximum facilitation.”
There is no clarity on this fundamental issue. The Remainers round the cabinet table are insisting on the former, the Brexiteers are insisting on the latter. The longer the farce drags on, the more vocal the Conservative backbenches become.
Among the most senior Remainer backbenchers in the Party is Nicky Morgan, who served as Education Secretary and now Chairs the influential Treasury Select Committee. She featured on the infamous “mutineers” Telegraph front page after voting against the government and has been outspoken throughout the exit process.
When we discussed the current impasse, Morgan had a scathing verdict on the hard Brexiteers. It feels “like the prime minister is being held to ransom,” she said. One culprit is Jacob Rees-Mogg and his “European Research Group.”
For Morgan, it is a problem “when the ERG sends letters signed by lots of them, dictating terms almost to the prime minister.”
It becomes even worse when, to use her words, “members of the cabinet, in particular the foreign secretary, feel they can openly criticise something the PM has made clear privately that she supports.”
Should Boris Johnson resign? “Brexit is so extraordinary in so many ways… I think in normal circumstances she would have asked him to consider his position.”
This will set the gossip mill spinning. But I wanted to turn to policy: which customs model would Morgan herself prefer?
“Conservative MPs were all given presentations yesterday. Gavin Barwell [May’s Chief of Staff] gave a fair presentation on both options, they were honest enough to say that both are untested and that there are flaws with both.”
“What we read in newspapers is that the PM prefers the customs partnership, which signals an ongoing relationship with the European Union, which is something that I very much support.”