British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing fresh backlash from within her Cabinet over what several ministers fear are concessions to the European Union (EU) in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
After a meeting on Thursday to update her so-called Brexit “war cabinet” of the latest plans for an agreement to exit the 28-member economic bloc, there is concern among some pro-Brexit ministers that the UK may be prepared to agree an indefinite customs backstop arrangement with the EU to maintain an open border with Ireland.
According to UK media reports, international development minister Penny Mordaunt, work and pensions minister Esther McVey and Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom are among those extremely concerned and may even be toying with the idea of stepping down.
To compound the British PM’s troubles, the ruling party’s Northern Irish allies Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are threatening to pull out their support and effectively bring down the Tory government if May gave in to the EU demands over the Irish border issue ahead of a crucial summit in Brussels next week.
The has raised fears that the UK could remain bound to EU rules indefinitely, something that pro-Brexit Conservative Party members of parliament are strongly against.
The challenge facing the British PM now is to sell the latest formulation to the whole of her Cabinet and avoid any resignations, having already faced down the resignations of former foreign minister Boris Johnson and former Brexit minister David Davis back in July.
But one of May’s key allies in the Cabinet, finance minister Philip Hammond, sought to quell the prospect of an all-out rebellion and said there has been a “measurable change of pace” in talks with the EU, adding to the sense of optimism that a deal could be imminent.