|United Kingdom: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
As Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom moved to Phase 2 (discussing the implementation phase and the future nature of the long-term relationship) in February 2018, the governing Conservative Party in the United Kingdom seemed increasingly riven by division between those arguing for a clear break (Hard Brexit) with the EU and those arguing for the UK to maintain a mutually beneficial close relationship with the EU (Soft Brexit).
As part of this leading Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP, Bernard Jenkin, MP and Lord Lawson (the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson) suggested that the Civil Service were actively campaigning against a hard Brexit by leaking sensitive information concerning the likely economic impact of Brexit.
Robin Butler, a former cabinet secretary, said he believed the actions were part of a deliberate 'Brexiteer process of intimidation'.
The divisions within the Conservative Party led to a questioning of the leadership of Theresa May.
News sources quoted on the 5 February 2018 said that a Downing Street spokesman had made clear that the UK would leave the EU customs union after Brexit. However, commentators noted that this might not preclude an agreement on some form of special customs arrangements.
In response, EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier said while on a visit to London on the 5 February 2018: 'our future partnership between the UK and the EU. On that point we need also clarity about the UK's proposals for the future partnership. The only thing I can say now is that without a customs union- and being outside the Single Market - barriers to trade and goods and services are unavoidable. The time has come to make a choice'.
News sources over the weekend of 10-11 February 2018 indicated that Downing Street had made it clear that the Prime Minister and senior ministers would make a series of six Road to Brexit speeches over the coming days to try and clarify what it wanted from the EU.
The speeches were planned for:
+ 14.02.18: Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary)
Theresa May would give a second speech on a yet unfixed date as would David Lidington. Commentators noted that Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond, seen as more pro-EU ministes were not part of this list.Report and analysis of a speech by United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Uniting for a Great Brexit given on the 14 February 2018 in London. In the speech Mr Johnson set out the path for an outward-facing, liberal and global Britain following the UK's exit from the EU.
The speech was the first in a series of Road to Brexit to be given over the following days by senior UK ministers, including the Prime Minister Theresa May, on Brexit-related themes.
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