‘Livid’ Michael Gove rips up EU customs partnership report


Michael Gove.
REUTERS/Simon Dawson


Brexiteer Michael Gove objects to the customers partnership favoured by Theresa May

Environment secretary Michael Gove physically ripped up a report on Theresa May’s preferred option for a new customs partnership with the EU.

He was said to have been “livid” as he felt the government document wrongly suggested his Brexit working group had agreed the plan was viable.

According to Mr Gove’s spokesman, he felt it downplayed his objections to the proposed customs relationship.

It comes amid cabinet splits over the future shape of Brexit.

The government has talked publicly about two potential options for its customs relationship with the European Union after Brexit.

One, a customs partnership, would mean the UK applies the EU’s own tariffs and rules of origin to all goods arriving in the country, intended for the EU.

The other, known as maximum facilitation or max-fac, aims to employ new technology to remove the need for physical customs checks where possible.

Two groups of cabinet members were looking at each of the plans.

The document in question, prepared by civil servants, was supposed to represent the views of a group of cabinet members looking at the customs partnership, including Mr Gove.

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The Sun reported Mr Gove “physically ripped it up to show he wasn’t prepared to accept the document as a summary of their discussions”.

BBC political correspondent Matt Cole said representatives for Mr Gove had confirmed the paper’s claims.

Mr Gove was unhappy because it didn’t “reflect his views that a customs partnership would be too bureaucratic and make it harder for Britain to do business”, our correspondent said.



Theresa may will convene her cabinet at Chequers on Friday to agree on a customs deal

Analysis: Cabinet discipline broken

By Matt Cole, BBC political correspondent

This outburst of anger – and, crucially, the fact it has become public – is another sign that Cabinet discipline has broken down.

The question around Westminster is has Theresa May lost control and, if so, is that irrevocable?

In recent days Boris Johnson has been criticised by colleagues like Greg Clark and Matthew Hancock for using an expletive to summarise his views about business and Brexit.

That was followed by another Cabinet member Liz Truss saying it “wasn’t macho” for people like the Defence Secretary to publicly demand extra cash.

This stuff is normally hidden behind the cloak of collective cabinet responsibility.

So, with Michael Gove now happy for it to be known he’s “livid” about a report by a sub committee of a sub committee (yes, that’s right), it’s only adding to the sense that the Prime Minister is a ring master whose whip crack is being ignored.