Has there been a breakthrough in the Government’s ongoing civil war over Brexit? Yesterday’s papers would have us believe so.
Several, including the Daily Mail, announced that “Brexiteer ministers have been persuaded of the need for a ‘soft landing'”, and conceded that open borders could continue until 2022.
In another article the paper added that: “In return, the leading Brexiteers have won the argument for a full exit from the EU single market and customs union.”
The obvious risk to this approach, if true, is that it all but guarantees that the Government will have to go to the country without having ‘taken back control’ of Britain’s borders, a risky move if the Conservatives want to keep their pro-Brexit coalition behind them and forestall any revival by UKIP.
In fact, ConservativeHome understands from senior sources that no such agreement has actually been reached, although Michael Gove’s decision to stress “pragmatism” in his comments yesterday may indicate that one is yet possible.
An agreed end goal and strategy would doubtless make the Government’s pursuit of a good Brexit deal much more straightforward.
But ministers should be very careful about playing fast and loose with one of the core motivators of the Brexit vote, especially on a subject where public trust has already been eroded by repeated commitments to an unreachable ‘tens of thousands’ net immigration pledge.