Show of unity by Britain's cabinet in post-Brexit transition

In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, the chancellor of the exchequer and the secretary for global trade attempt to paper over divisions that have emerged in the cabinet.

The chancellor Philip Hammond and worldwide trade secretary Liam Fox - prominent Remain and Leave advocates respectively - have jointly confirmed there will be a transition period after leaving the European Union and that the country will leave the single market and customs union.

"We are both clear that during this period the United Kingdom will be outside the single market and outside the customs union and will be a "third-country" not party to EU treaties, " they added.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem leader, said the article showed that it was not Hammond who "calls the shots" in the cabinet over Brexit.

"Over the summer, we heard that Philip Hammond was courageously fighting off the more extreme Brexiteers".

They also underlined that Britain would operate outside the single market and customs union after Brexit. The rebellion didn't last very long.

The old divisions in the Tory party over Europe appeared to resurface when Mr Fox said that any such transition period would end before the next general election in 2022.

The Chancellor and International Trade Secretary agreed that there should be a time-limited transition period, and that it would not lead to "backdoor" of Britain staying in the European Union, putting an end to months of infighting in Mrs May's cabinet.

"But we are also clear that during this period our borders must continue to operate smoothly; goods bought on the internet must still cross borders; businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the European Union and our innovative, world-leading companies must be able to hire the talent they need, including from within the EU".

Prime Minister Theresa May wants an accord before leaving.

Their article was published as the Conservative MP Anna Soubry said that she and probably other pro-Europeans could leave the party if May insisted on pursuing a hard Brexit.

"The answer to the first question is "it is not impossible"; the answer to the second is "no".

Brexit Secretary David Davis said exactly how the transitional arrangements would work had still to be determined. Writing in the "Observer", he said: "People say we must respect the referendum".

That will come alongside other documents setting out how Britain's involvement in the customs union with other EU countries this week.

"Pulling Britain out of the single market and the customs union in 2019 will drive our economy over a cliff edge, putting jobs and family finances at risk", he said.

Mr Miliband, who lost out to his brother Ed in the 2010 Labour leadership contest and who now heads the International Rescue Committee relief agency in NY, described the outcome of the 2016 referendum as an "unparalleled act of economic self-harm".

Vanessa Coleman

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