A senior aide to David Davis has attacked Theresa May’s closest advisers for pursuing a “Hotel California Brexit” as he accused one of leaking details of her Brexit plan to “his BBC mates”.
Stewart Jackson, a former Conservative MP and special adviser to Mr Davis, has accused senior officials in Downing Street of blocking his reappointment despite Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Secretary, asking him to stay in post.
Wading into a growing row between Number 10 and backbench Eurosceptics, Mr Jackson has accused Oliver Robbins, a senior civil servant leading negotiations with Brussels, of blocking the Brexit White Paper for several months.
Taking to social media last night, Mr Jackson also accused Robbie Gibb, Mrs May’s head of communications, of “sounding off to his BBC mates about the ‘3rd way’ customs options”, suggesting that he had leaked details of the proposals before they were presented to Cabinet ministers.
It comes after his former boss, David Davis, quit as Brexit Secretary late on Sunday evening in protest over the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.
Mr Davis said that he had been repeatedly undermined in recent months, adding that he could no longer continue in the role as a “reluctant conscript”.
His decision triggered a flurry of further resignations over the next two days, including Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, who claimed that Britain was now heading for a “semi-Brexit”.
Whilst Mrs May was quick in appointing Dominic Raab as Mr Davis’s successor, it is understood that key parts of his portfolio have been taken over by Downing Street.
Mr Raab has been told to focus on preparing for ‘no deal’, while Mrs May and her in-house ‘Europe Unit’ take full control of discussions with the European Commission.
But in a further erosion of Mr Raab’s authority, it was last claimed that his decision to reappoint Mr Jackson as a special adviser was “overruled” by Number Ten, which is “now running the show”.
Speaking out for the first time, Mr Jackson said that the decision to take away part of Mr Raab’s brief was “all part of the plan” by Olly Robbins and Downing Street to assert more control over the negotiations.
Ersatz Brexiteer @RobbieGibb almost blew the gaff on Monday 2nd by sounding off to his BBC mates about the “3rd way” customs option - forcing PM to explicitly deny it. 24 hours later on Tues pm it appeared in a detailed presentation in 9 Downing St by HMRC. Quick work guys!
— Stewart Jackson (@BrexitStewart) July 10, 2018
“Robbins et al blocked the publication of the White Paper from at least March because 1) they’d lose policy control and 2) ipso facto its contents might not be the Hotel California Brexit they delivered at Chequers,” he continued.
The reference to Hotel California will be seen as a further attack on Mrs May’s Brexit plan, as it implies that the Government is signing up to an agreement which keep Britain locked into the EU in perpetuum.
Branding Mr Gibb, the former head of the BBC’s political team, an “Ersatz Brexiteer”, Mr Jackson added: “[He] almost blew the gaff on Monday 2nd [July] by sounding off to his BBC mates about the ‘3rd way’ customs option - forcing PM to explicitly deny it.
“24 hours later on Tuesday it appeared in a detailed presentation in 9 Downing Street by HMRC. Quick work guys!”.
In a veiled threat to Mrs May, Mr Jackson added that he had “plenty more to say” about the Government’s handling of Brexit and suggested he would be speaking out in the future.
It came as Mrs May faced more resignations on Tuesday night, with Conservative Party vice-chairs Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield quitting in protest at her Chequers plan.
In their resignation letters, they claimed that the Government’s plans for close links with Europe after Brexit risked handing Jeremy Corbyn “the keys” to 10 Downing Street.
Mrs May is in Brussels for a Nato meeting which is also being attended by US President Donald Trump, who described the UK as being in "turmoil" after the resignations of Boris Johnson and Mr Davis from Cabinet.
The PM will hold a regional Cabinet in Newcastle in July, which is likely to include discussions about Brexit.