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Is May really in the driving seat?

Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

The prime minister's claim that she is in the driving seat and the cabinet are agreed on our post-Brexit destination is dubious, to put it mildly.

First, it is not redolent of a PM who is properly in charge that she has not publicly rebuked a foreign secretary who has committed an act of extraordinary disloyalty - according to his colleagues - by setting out his personal manifesto for the UK outside of the EU, without seeking or receiving her permission.

Her "Boris is Boris" makes him look invulnerable.

Second I have rarely known a cabinet as split on an issue of huge importance to Britain as this one is on the nature of our future trading relationship with the EU.

Davis, Johnson and Gove want our future EU trade deal modelled on Canada's - which removes many tariffs but not customs checks and other barriers to seamless access.

And Hammond, Rudd and Green would prefer an arrangement much closer to our current membership of the EU single market and customs union.

It is a row essentially between the Brexiteer ultras, led by Johnson, who want us to cease all payments to the EU budget and to remove the European Court of Justice from any role in the UK, and those like Hammond who are less religious about these issues.

May, who as it happens is in Canada, said today she would not choose either of those paths, but one that she would not describe - other than to say it has no precedent in the history of the EU.

Which might make you fear she is whistling in the dark, till either she has the resolve to face down and arguably sack one or other of the cabinet factions, or their civil war brings her down.