Theresa May: Get us out of the EU fast

THERESA May last night ordered Tory ministers to stop dithering and pull Britain out of the EU as soon as possible.

Teresa May, Boris Johnson, and Liam FoxGETTY

Infighting in the Conservative party is slowing down Brexti

interrupted her to issue a stern warning against attempts in Whitehall to delay departure until the end of 2019 or later.

“She just wants them to get on with it,” a senior Downing Street source said last night.

Her intervention followed reports that ministers have now told senior figures in the City that the timescale for Brexit may have to be lengthened.

Mrs May was also said to be “distinctly unimpressed” about an alleged “turf war” being waged between the and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

She wants them to get on with it

Downing Street source

She slapped down Dr Fox over an attempted departmental power grab yesterday and told them both to focus on preparations for leaving the European Union.

City insiders claimed to have been told by ministers that , almost a year later than predicted.

Two new Whitehall offices created to oversee departure negotiations – the Department for EU Exit under David Davis and that for International Trade under Dr Fox – may not be ready in time for the current timetable, the sources said.

French and German elections due for 2017 were also cited as reasons for the delay.


A power struggle between Liam Fox and Boris Johnson is taking place

The reports angered former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who said he was “starting to detect a lot of frustration out there from the 17 million who voted Leave”.

The Government “needs to get on with delivering Brexit”, he added.

A Downing Street source said Mrs May remained committed to triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the formal mechanism for leaving the bloc, early next year.

Keeping that pledge would mean the UK could quit the EU in January 2019.

The source also said preparatory work for Brexit was happening at full pelt in Whitehall.

“The speed at which meetings are taking place despite the holidays has been phenomenal,” it said.

Ministers and officials were frequently gathering as early as 7.30am each day to discuss the Brexit process.

The source said: “They are flat out doing the preparatory work the Prime Minister has told them to do.

Theresa May and Francois HollandeGETTY

The prime minister is securing trade deals for the future of the UK but Brexit keeps getting delayed

“She wants them to get on with it. The Prime Minister has made lots of phone calls to foreign leaders and the majority want to be at the head of the queue to agree new trade deals with us. We will be moving forward with this early in the New Year.”

Meanwhile, Mrs May was said to be irritated by reports of a Whitehall feud between Mr Johnson and Mr Fox over who controls key aspects of foreign policy, the source said.

A leaked letter from the International Trade Secretary to the Foreign Secretary sent at the end of last month called for a “rational restructuring”.

Dr Fox wrote that responsibility for “economic diplomacy” should be transferred to his office. However, Whitehall sources described the letter as an “insult and assault” and said it had “gone down like a lead balloon” at the Foreign Office.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry called the row “a mess entirely of Theresa May’s making”.

She added: “She created these three separate departments, not because it made sense in terms of co-ordinating Whitehall’s management of Brexit, but just to buy the loyalty of Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis.

“Now we see the inevitable turf wars, as they fight to grab work that should have been co-ordinated out of the Foreign Office alone.

It is high time the Tories stopped fighting among themselves and focused on clearing up the mess they have created.”

Boris JohnsonGETTY

The Foreign Secretary is in a feud over who controls key aspects of foreign policy

Meanwhile, anti-Brussels Tory MPs were yesterday said to be in talks about forming cross-party groups to press Mrs May and the Government not to delay Brexit and to ensure any departure deal is not watered down. 

One said: “There’s a deafening silence on detail related to the defining issue of her premiership – how we exit the EU. 

“It’s almost as though the referendum never happened.”

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Margaret Robinson
Margaret Robinson

No I dont think so. The amount of work involved just to familiarise themselves with the various treaties and they definitely need a lot of instruction on how the Eu works. Treaties were signed in the past with little more than a cursory glance. A hall mare of the Eu was to present treaties and directives that were fragmented exceptionally long running to 1000 pages, complex & as convoluted as possible. very important details were hidden in plain sight but designed to be easily missed. ref: The great deception.

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