Theresa May has made one thing clear: Brexit mean Brexit. But when will the Prime Minister actually pull the trigger and invoke Article 50? Boris Johnson gave his take last night:
‘The Government is working towards an Article 50 letter which as you know will be produced, probably, in the early part of next year. That’s still subject for discussion but what is clear I think to our friends and partners in the EU is two broad principles: we are not leaving Europe; Although we are leaving the EU treaties, we do want to have the closest possible trading relationship and it’s very much in their interests to achieve that… it’s very much in their interests to do a great free trade deal with us, and I think that will happen.’
Not so, said Downing Street, who rebuked Boris by saying Theresa May will be the one setting out the timetable. Some will dismiss this as Boris being Boris. Yet the Foreign Secretary isn’t alone in being slapped down by Theresa May, who has now ticked off all three of her Brexit ministers. David Davis fell foul of Downing Street earlier this month when he pointed out it was ‘very improbable’ Britain would remain in the single market – to which No.10 said that was merely him ‘setting out his view’ rather than Government policy. It’s not that No10 disagrees, it’s just that Theresa May is nervous about her negotiating position. She wants to go into talks demanding everything: full membership of the single market, control over immigration, tariff free Prosecco etc. Then when it is agreed that Britain will be leaving the customs union she can bill it as a great concession. The games, the games.
Liam Fox has also been publicly corrected by No.10