LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Theresa May will meet EU business leaders worried about Britain’s departure as a secret letter emerged from two cabinet ministers instructing her how to run Brexit.
The leaked memo from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, two top Brexit advocates, told May to ensure other ministers back the process by “clarifying their minds”.
“We are profoundly worried that in some parts of government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy,” they wrote, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The letter titled “EU Exit – Next Steps” said failure to prepare for a no-deal outcome to Brexit negotiations “would leave us over a barrel in 2021” – at the end of a possible transition period.
The Sunday Times also reported that 40 MPs from May’s Conservative party have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in the prime minister, just eight short of the number needed to trigger a leadership contest.
Two cabinet ministers have been forced to resign in recent weeks – one over sexual harassment and the other for a series of unauthorised meetings with Israeli officials – weakening May’s leadership.
The government is also under pressure to meet a two-week deadline set by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Friday for a deal on exit terms ahead of the December EU summit.
Businesses have warned that they will be forced to activate contingency plans – some of which involve relocating part of operations to the continental European Union – if Brexit uncertainty persists.
“This is an important meeting because the urgency that is shared by businesses across Europe is growing by the day,” Carolyn Fairbairn, head of the Confederation of British Industry, said ahead of the meeting with May in her Downing Street office.