Sajid Javid leaves the crunch Brexit meeting
The Brexit war cabinet had been under way for more than an hour when new Home Secretary Sajid Javid rushed in, fresh from speaking in the Commons on the Windrush scandal.
Catapulted on to the committee on Monday following the resignation of Amber Rudd over the immigration fiasco, he was greeted with an expectant hush.
Many members of the cabinet had made clear their views on the customs row in the run-up to yesterday’s meeting through briefings to the media or via public comments.
But Mr Javid, in the post for barely 48 hours, had kept his powder dry.
Cabinet sources said when he spoke he was ‘robust’ in his opposition to the idea of a new customs partnership, arguing that it would limit the possibility of the UK striking new trade deals.
He is said to have told the meeting: ‘Look, I know I’m the new kid on the block, but to me this new customs partnership looks untested and unprecedented. I would have significant concerns about it going ahead.’
One source said: ‘Sajid made the difference. If Amber had still been there I think we could have reached a different outcome.’
With Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson also voicing ‘grave concerns’ about the proposal and calling for other options, it quickly became clear that the 11-strong committee was divided 6 to 5 against the idea.
One pro-Brexit source claimed Theresa May appeared ‘visibly shocked’ as it became clear No 10’s preferred option could not carry the committee.
The claim was dismissed by allies of Mrs May who said No 10 had begun to realise the plan might be politically untenable with the Tory Party the previous evening.
The Brexit war cabinet had been under way for more than an hour when new Home Secretary Sajid Javid rushed in, fresh from speaking in the Commons on the Windrush