Brexit Secretary Ally Warns May Will be Ousted if She Surrenders to EU on Customs Union


Theresa May has been warned she could be ousted as Prime Minister unless she reins in the unelected adviser pushing for Britain to remain tied to the EU Customs Union after Brexit.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly assured voters she will stick to her manifesto pledge to take Britain out of the Customs Union, which prevents the country from making its own trade deals or choosing how to cast its vote on global bodies like the World Trade Organisation independently.

But this Wednesday rumours emerged she could adopt recommendations to propose a so-called customs partnership with the bloc, which would see Britain collect EU tariffs on behalf of Brussels — in line with previous hints at a “partial” customs union with the bloc.

Several Cabinet ministers strongly oppose the plan, with Brexit secretary David Davis last week claiming it is “unworkable” and environment secretary Michael Gove calling it “completely bonkers”.

Now, an ally of Mr. Davis has gone further, saying the Prime Minister could be ousted like her predecessor Margret Thatcher unless she gets rid of the unelected adviser behind the customs partnership plan, The Sunday Times reports.

Oliver Robbins, Mrs. May’s chief Brexit negotiator, came up with the plan, and has also pushed for Britain to retain ties with EU courts.

The close ally of Mr. Davis issued the coded threat by comparing Mr. Robinson to Mrs. Thatcher’s former aid Alan Walters, who was accused of making decisions behind the backs of elected ministers.

“[The Prime Minister] should have a look at the history books and the case of Alan Walters. When prime ministers start following the advice of unelected advisers rather than her ministers, trouble follows. That way lies risk for her personally,” they said.

“Oliver Robbins has to understand he is accountable to the Secretary of State [for Brexit] as well as the Prime Minister,” a source close to Davis added.

Senior backbenchers have also threatened push for a vote of no confidence in Mrs. May: “The Prime Minister would be extraordinarily unwise to take Robbins’s advice on this,” said one former minister close to Davis.

“There will be a very swift and very violent reaction. It will put the Prime Minister in personal peril.”

Pro-Brexit business leaders have also demanded that Mr. Robbins is fired and “replaced by someone from outside the civil service who will take a tough line with Brussels”.

Richard Tice and John Longworth, of the Leave Means Leave group, wrote in an article for The Sunday Times:

“At each stage, Robbins has presided over a bungled negotiating position on behalf of the UK, giving leverage to the EU and acquiescing to their every whim in a way no business person would do.”

Robbins sympathised strongly with the old Soviet Union which many eurosceptics regard as the EU’s spiritual predecessor, praising the “Soviet leaders [who] changed Russia from a backward peasant autocracy, despised by the West, into a technological giant at whom the world cowered in fear for half a century.”

The struggle over his customs proposals come as Home Secretary Amber Rudd, another europhile close to Theresa May, proposes a “labour mobility partnership” which would give EU migrants preferential access to benefits, healthcare and jobs in return for trade with Brussels, effectively walking back pledges to take back control of Britain’s borders after Brexit.

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