Prime Minister forced to slap down unruly Cabinet
PUBLISHED: 18:12 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 31 July 2017
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Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to wade into a ministerial spat over Brexit transitional periods after a nominal Cabinet ceasefire was broken.
Her official spokesman was forced to confirm the Hard Brexit line that free movement from the European Union will end in March 2019.
Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Brexit chief David Davis will see it as a victory over Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Tory Brexit tensions heightened after Hammond and Rudd backed transitional arrangements after the UK leaves the bloc, which suggested EU migration could continue with a registration scheme.
However, Fox said unregulated free movement of labour after Brexit would “not keep faith” with the EU referendum result and that the Cabinet had not agreed a stance on immigration.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted the Government’s position remained as set out by May in her Lancaster House speech on Brexit.
“The Prime Minister’s position on an implementation period is very clear and well-known,” he said.
“Free movement will end in March 2019. We have published proposals on citizens’ rights. Last week, the Home Secretary said there will be a registration system for migrants arriving post-March 2019.
“Other elements of the post-Brexit immigration system will be brought forward in due course. It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now.”
Number 10’s intervention came as Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt and Sir Michael Fallon sought to play down reports of splits within May’s top team.