Boris Johnson’s allies have furiously denied German claims that he privately admitted Brexit is a ‘mess’.
The Foreign Secretary allegedly aired his concerns about the UK’s negotiating position in a bid to encourage the EU to take a softer approach.
German government sources said he had appealed to senior figures in Angela Merkel’s administration to help ‘make a win-win out of this mess’.
But friends of Mr Johnson dismissed the claims as ‘nonsense’ and accused Berlin of ‘mischief-making’.
Friends of Mr Johnson (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) dismissed the claims as ‘nonsense’ and accused Berlin of ‘mischief-making’
A friend of the Foreign Secretary said: ‘These old claims will be rightly dismissed as nonsense by anyone sensible. Boris knows Brexit will be a great success and is committed to taking back control of our money, laws and borders.’
The spat came amid fears that ministers are still deadlocked over what ‘end state’ they want for relations with the EU.
Theresa May is gathering her Brexit war Cabinet at her Chequers country retreat tomorrow in a bid to thrash out a unified stance for negotiations.
But there are still thought to be significant disagreements between Brexiteer and Remainer factions over how far the UK should be willing to accept Brussels rules.
As Tory manoeuvring escalated last night, 62 backbench MPs wrote to Mrs May warning her not to water down Brexit.
The letter from the European Research Group, led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, made clear that Eurosceptics will not tolerate any backsliding. It warns Mrs May it is vital she secures ‘full regulatory autonomy’ as part of any divorce deal, leaving Britain free to set its own laws without Brussels interference.
They warned the UK will be ‘legally barred’ from striking free trade deals if it remains in the single market or customs union.
The letter, co-ordinated by former minister John Penrose, continued: ‘Leaving them both isn’t a question of ideology but practicality – we can’t strike those free trade deals if we don’t.’
The MPs also warn that the UK must be free to start trade negotiations with other countries at once.
The Prime Minister (pictured giving a speech in the Midlands this week) is due to gather senior ministers at her country residence to discuss the ‘end state’ of relations with the EU
David Davis (pictured giving a speech in Vienna yesterday) is demanding that Britain is protected from ‘harmful’ new EU rules during a Brexit transition
Both sides want the deal to ensure there is no ‘cliff edge’ for businesses when Britain leaves the bloc, with ministers saying the details should be tied up at a crucial EU summit next month.
But there are deep tensions over Brussels’ insistence that Britain must accept all EU rules even though it will no longer have any say in how they are set and enforced.
The EU is also adamant that European citizens coming to the UK during the period must get the same permanent residency rights as those who arrive before the formal exit date in March next year.
The British response, due to be laid before parliament this morning, will call for a mechanism to protect the UK from any ‘harm’ caused by new EU regulations.
But it will not formally reject the EU’s demands on freedom of movement rights. Whitehall officials told Politico the subject would be ‘for negotiation’ and denied the government was caving in.
Jacob Rees-Mogg and fellow Conservative MPs in the European Research Group have told Theresa May it is vital the UK is free to strike free trade deals