British Prime Minister Theresa May has convened her “war cabinet” to decide the future of the UK’s relations with the European Union amid pressure to make decisions immediately.
May is slated to meet with her most senior ministers, including the chancellor, Philip Hammond, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to consider how they want the “end state” of relations with the EU.
The meeting will be held directly after May’s questions on Wednesday afternoon and is expected to address the Northern Ireland border issue and immigration too.
The business secretary, Greg Clark, said “We can’t know an end state until it has been agreed by both sides.”
“We’ve got a series of meetings to make sure the end state that we want to negotiate, which requires agreement from the counter parties, meets our objectives – that we can continue to thrive, that we can continue to trade without tariffs, with the minimum of frictions. That’s what business wants and needs. That is what the purpose of this discussion is,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
Ministers will also meet again Thursday to discuss the future trade relationship with the EU.
May has to end the confusion over her negotiating stance with business leaders, who have threatened to stop investment in the UK if she dithers for more than a fortnight longer.
“We are at the point where decisions need to be taken. Business needs certainty, whichever way we decide to go,” one Cabinet minister told MailOnline.
Tensions were fuelled by a leaked internal government assessment suggesting that the options on the table so far for a trade deal with the EU would all leave Britain worse off.
May insisted Friday she was “doing what the British people want” and going nowhere despite growing pressure from her party over her leadership and Brexit strategy.
May has faced growing public calls from across her Conservative party this week to set out her vision for Brexit more clearly, amid media reports of increasing discontent with her leadership.
Negotiations are taking place between the UK and the EU ahead of Britain’s scheduled exit in March 2019.