Irate Theresa May slaps down Sajid Javid in Cabinet row after months of leadership plotting and policy rows
- Theresa May and Sajid Javid locked horns in her private study at No10 on Friday
- Mrs May was hosting Cabinet Ministers who are supportive of a hard Brexit
- Brexiteers hit back saying that the time for warm words with Brussels is over
Simmering tension between Theresa May and Sajid Javid (above) boiled over as the Prime Minister summoned Cabinet Ministers to her private study at No 10 on Friday
Simmering tension between Theresa May and Sajid Javid boiled over as the Prime Minister summoned Cabinet Ministers to her private study at No 10 on Friday to help crack her Brexit conundrum.
The Mail on Sunday has learnt an ‘incredibly frosty’ Prime Minister silenced her Home Secretary in what Cabinet colleagues saw as a stinging rebuke for months of leadership plotting and policy rows.
A Cabinet source said: ‘She gave Javid incredibly short shrift, cutting him dead with a “thank you for your contribution, Home Secretary” when he was trying to get a word in.’
The pair have privately clashed since Mr Javid took over the reins at Mrs May’s former department, with relations hitting a new low after he was forced to rush home from a luxury break in South Africa last month to deal with the migrant crisis in the English Channel.
Mrs May hosted Cabinet Ministers who are supportive of a hard Brexit – four in person and three on the phone – on Friday afternoon after promising to ‘listen’ to her party after her thumping Commons Brexit defeat last week.
The pair have privately clashed since Mr Javid (left) took over the reins at Mrs May’s (right) former department
She moved to reassure her worried Ministers that she was not preparing to call a second referendum or ‘pivot’ towards a permanent customs union relationship with Brussels that would render the UK unable to do free trade deals with other countries.
She told those present her ‘objective is to find a solution that our colleagues and the DUP can unite around’ rather than rely on Labour votes.
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Softening on customs is a key ask for the Labour Party to back Mrs May’s exit deal but Brexiteer backbenchers have warned the PM she faces a ‘Corn Laws-style split’ if she pursues that course.
They are referring to the great backbench 19th Century rebellion over free trade that left the Tories out of power for 30 years.
Mrs May gave Javid ‘incredibly short shrift, cutting him dead with a “thank you for your contribution, Home Secretary”’
Their concerns were echoed by many members of the Cabinet present, despite the ‘pivot’ being supported by Chancellor Philip Hammond and Business Secretary Greg Clark.
Before the meeting, Jeremy Hunt, Geoffrey Cox, Sajid Javid, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling and Liam Fox plotted in Andrea Leadsom’s vast Commons office to prepare for the Downing Street showdown.
The Ministers had previously met as a part of a Brexit ‘Pizza Club’ first revealed by The Mail on Sunday, but have since been nicknamed ‘the alternative Cabinet’.
And in a phone call ahead of the showdown it was decided that Mr Hunt would ‘open the talks’ as he ‘currently has the best relationship with the PM’.
Prime Minister May with Sajid Javid to her immediate left and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove to her immediate right
However, the unity quickly collapsed after Transport boss Chris Grayling urged the Prime Minister to seek more reassurances on the hated ‘backstop’ clause of the EU Withdrawal Agreement that forced Tory MPs to vote down the deal last week.
Mr Javid and Mrs Leadsom both hit back that ‘the time for warm words is over’ and more legally binding concrete changes from Brussels would be required if Mrs May is ever going to get her deal through the Commons.
Backbench Tory MPs in the European Research Group of hardline Brexiteers have also urged Mrs May to return to Brussels as soon as this week and demand changes to the ‘backstop’ protocol.
They are promising they would compromise and vote for her deal if she succeeds in finding a legally binding exit mechanism from the insurance option that would see Britain tied to EU customs rules indefinitely.
Last night Tom Watson sparked fresh Shadow Cabinet civil war by saying Jeremy Corbyn is ‘obligated’ to take part in Brexit crisis talks with the PM that the Labour leader has so far shunned.
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