Faith in Theresa May’s Government to carry out Brexit “collapsed” when the UK failed to leave the EU on March 29, claimed Iain Duncan Smith. The former Tory leader argued March 29 was a “really critical date”, warning cross-party talks on a customs union are “not going to work”. The Brexiteer Tory told talkRADIO: “I’m not sure that the Prime Minister has really listened. I think they have ploughed on with this obsession with their deal. The honest truth is I think that the deal as itself, as it stands right now, is over. The last reason for even supporting it was to try and get us across the line on March 29.
“Because I always took the view that March 29 was a really critical date. If the public didn’t see that we had left, in other words, the number one act of leading was to repeal the 1972 European Union Act and that way we would have officially left.
“Now we didn’t do that, you can track back the moment when faith in her Government to get this through has collapsed.”
The former Work and Pensions Secretary added: “I think therefore there is no reason now to try and fiddle around with customs union and things, it’s just not going to work.
“We promised, as did Labour, that we would be out of the customs union at the last election.
“The idea we can suddenly say ‘well actually we’re going to change that’ will just deepen the wound that the public feels about this.”
The Prime Minister could hold a series of “definitive votes” on a range of Brexit options if talks with Labour break down, according to insiders.
The plan would see MPs asked to rank different Brexit outcomes in order of preference and will be put into action if Mrs May and Mr Corbyn fail to reach an agreement.
Sources said Downing Street saw the definitive votes proposal as a last throw of the dice as the Government attempts to find a Brexit strategy acceptable to a majority of MPs.
A compromise deal with Labour is still the Prime Minister’s preferred option but MPs will be offered votes on alternatives if talks break down.
Mrs May is preparing to brief senior ministers on the state of the talks – which began in April – at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street on Tuesday.
Meanwhile Mrs May’s chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, is travelling to Brussels for talks with EU officials.
Discussions will include whether the political declaration could be changed – and how quickly – if it allowed the Government and Labour to break the impasse.