Boris Johnson (pictured in Parliament last week) considered quitting during Theresa May’s crucial Brexit war Cabinet meeting at Chequers
Boris Johnson considered quitting during Theresa May’s crucial Brexit war Cabinet meeting at Chequers.
The Prime Minister gathered her most senior ministers to thrash out the details of the Government’s Brexit position at her country retreat.
But the crucial meeting nearly hit the skids amid a row over how much the UK should diverge from EU laws after we quit.
The Foreign Secretary – a leading Brexiteer – at one point feared that the PM was opting for a softer Brexit which would muzzle the UK’s ability to draw up its own laws and innovate.
Allies of Mr Johnson reportedly said he was considering resigning from the Cabinet over the row during the course of the marathon discussions.
One friend told The Sunday Times: ‘It was a very long and torrid day.
‘For much of it he thought it was going in totally the wrong direction. He thought there might be a long walk home.’
It came as Cabinet tensions flared over how much the UK should diverge from the EU after Brexit.
Remainers, led by Chancellor Philip Hammond, have pushed for Britain to stay closely tied to EU rules and regulations.
But Mr Johnson has argued that Britain must be able to break free, draw up its own laws and innovate after the departures.
During the Chequers meeting Business Secretary Greg Clark clashed with Mr Johnson over the possible economic fall-out of diverging from EU laws.
The Foreign Secretary said divergence is crucial too allow innovation in the British market.
And he pointed out that laws in Brussels had stopped him form being able to change the design of lorries to make them safer for cyclists.
And he also pointed out they had banned one of Dyson’s most powerful vacuum cleaners.
The Prime Minister gathered her most senior ministers to thrash out the details of the Government’s Brexit position at her country retreat
But Mr Clark said the British market nay not be big enough for firms to be able to design products especially for it.
He told the gathering of top ministers and Brexit officials that up to 425,000 jobs in the car industry are at stake.
A minister told the newspaper: ‘Greg had his Weetabix. He really roared. Boris was quite taken aback.’
Ministers in the end agreed that Britain would would be able to diverge from EU laws – but with a pledge to continue to keep high standards, or voluntarily opt to sign up to some EU laws.
But Mr Johnson has now issued a new Brexit ‘red line’ – insisting that the promise on divergence struck at Chequers must not be watered down, and that divergence can strat when trade talks begin.
A source said: ‘Boris makes no distinction between the offer and our bottom line. This is what we must get.’