Ministers in Britain’s new minority administration are predicting “utterly bitter, trench warfare” in the House of Commons, as Europhile politicians attempt to dilute or derail Brexit.
“Make no mistake, this will be our Passchendaele,” a source in Government told The Sun, referring to the ferocious First World War clash in Flanders of British, Commonwealth, and Allied soldiers with Imperial German forces.
“Labour and all the others will fight us line by line, in committees, on the floor and in the Lords, for months and months on end. It will be utterly bitter, trench warfare,” he warned.
“We have to get real about this and I am worried that Theresa is seriously deluded if she thinks otherwise.”
The Telegraph: May committing to hard Brexit
The Times: Hammond looking to push for soft Brexit pic.twitter.com/zdFPIWp8km
— RANsquawk (@RANsquawk) June 14, 2017
Within the Cabinet itself, reports are emerging that Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and his team at Her Majesty’s Treasury have entered “street-fighting mode” as they prepare to fight against a clean and decisive break with the EU, seeking to keep Britain within its anti-free trade Customs Union in particular.
Prior to the June 8th snap election, Hammond was said to have been the most strident voice in Cabinet for a so-called “Soft Brexit”, which would likely leave Britain within the Single Market – a centrally-regulated trade zone in which European Economic Area nationals can roam across borders in unlimited numbers effectively unchecked.
He was tipped for dismissal if the election had strengthened Theresa May’s majority in Parliament, but she apparently felt unable to do so when the actual result saw her party lose its majority.
May has signalled she still intends to aim for a clean or, in Remainer parlance, “hard”, Brexit. Cabinet returnee and Leave campaigner Michael Gove claims Britain will still be leaving the Customs Union. But with Hammond drumming up support for a diluted deal in the City and influential Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson saying she wants the party to “look again” at its negotiating position, this seems to be in doubt.
The British people made a clear decision to end free movement of people last Thursday. Westminster must listen. pic.twitter.com/zcItyD9J9B
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) June 13, 2017
Europhile Tories will likely have strong support from opposition parties in their efforts to “soften” the Brexit deal.
The Labour Party campaigned on a pledge to end Free Movement prior to the election, meaning that over 80 per cent of MPs were returned to the Commons on the understanding that Britain would leave the Single Market.
But senior opposition figures are working hard to establish a narrative that the Tories losing their majority was a public rejection of a “Hard Brexit”, largely unchallenged by mainstream media outlets like the BBC.
April 25: Corbyn's Shadow Brexit Secretary says we'll leave Single Market and end Free Movement – same as May. No mandate for “Soft Brexit”. pic.twitter.com/5F5SNL3MDh
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) June 9, 2017
Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer (pictured right) has even signalled that Single Market membership should now be returned to the table, despite clearly stating this would be “incompatible with [Labour’s] clarity about the fact that Freedom of Movement rules have to change” in the run-up to the vote.