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Tory Brexiters furious with May for going soft on soft Brexit

Theresa May faces criticism from her backbenchers over lack of an imminent date for the EU Withdrawal bill to be debated in Commons. Credit: PA

There is near civil war on the Tory backbenches over the refusal of the government to name an imminent date for bringing the EU Withdrawal bill back to the Commons, so that MPs can vote on the Lords amendments.

The Brexiters of the European Research Group are incandescent with fury at what they perceive as the spinelessness of the PM and her chief whip Julian Smith.

“We need to vote down the amendments in favour of customs union and membership of EEA [or single market] before the EU summit [at end of June]” said one MP. “Otherwise the EU will simply roll over the PM”.

“With Labour rebels we have the numbers to win” said another. “She must get on with it”.

They moan they’ve had conflicting signals on this all week from the whips.

One source said that No.10 has been informed “with sledgehammer authenticity, you will not be having a governing majority if you do not get on with governing - with bringing back these votes PDQ being a stellar example”.

There is terror among the Tory Brexiters that they are being dragged by stealth into the UK’s transition to full exit being elongated by a decade - that the UK will remain part of a customs union and single market for years and years, because of the failure of the cabinet to agree a credible alternative.

In the City, that is what the big financial institutions are betting. Money often knows.

So the Brexiters want to head off any drift to the UK adopting a Norwegian or Swiss-style relationship with the EU pronto.