It is quiet out there, too quiet in the views of many Brexiteers in government. As I say in The Sun this morning, they fear that right now a deal is being done that they’ll be bounced into supporting.
They worry that since last week’s Cabinet meeting, there hasn’t been any new Brexit offer put either to Cabinet or the inner Cabinet yet technical talks have resumed in Brussels. They fear that a deal will be agreed and then they’ll be faced with a choice of rejecting it and having to take the blame for no deal and the chaos that would involve or accepting the agreement with all its flaws.
This fear of being bounced has been heightened by Theresa May’s mood. Those who have seen her this week describe her as ‘astonishingly upbeat’ and convinced that a deal will soon be done. I understand that she will update the Cabinet on the state of negotiations on Tuesday.
Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, is more optimistic than most Leavers in the Cabinet. He has been reassuring Cabinet colleagues that press reports about where the deal is going to end up aren’t right and that the final phase of the negotiations will be politically—not technically—led. In other words, ministers not civil servants will be in charge.
But this has not been enough to assuage some of his colleague’s concerns. They point out that at that crucial points in these negotiations, Downing Street has presented ministers with a done deal and challenged them to quit if they don’t like it. The Chequers plan—which David Davis and Boris Johnson resigned over—is just one example of this approach.