Cabinet ministers including Sajid Javid and Michael Gove have threatened a revolt if Theresa May U-turns on her promise to leave the customs union post-Brexit.
Following reports over the weekend that Prime Minister Theresa May could bow to parliamentary pressure and maintain a customs union with the EU, after the House of Lords voted to keep such an option open last week in an embarrassing defeat for the government, Javid quickly dismissed the idea on Twitter.
The housing and local government secretary said that the "British people gave politicians clear instructions" when they voted to leave the EU, and that the customs union was an "intrinsic part of the EU".
"Britain must leave [the customs union] and be able to negotiate and sign [its] own trade deals," he tweeted.
British people gave politicians clear instructions through EU referendum. Includes leaving the Customs Union, an intrinsic part of the EU. Britain must leave CU and be able to negotiate & sign own trade deals https://t.co/9jUlNaWPMt
Michael Gove, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, later stood by Javid's words in a clear warning to May.
"Sajid is right – the referendum vote was clear – we need to take back control of trade – that means leaving the protectionist customs union," he tweeted.
Sajid is right – the referendum vote was clear – we need to take back control of trade – that means leaving the protectionist Customs Union https://t.co/60vXDfbXM9
Conservative MP Priti Patel wrote in an article published on Brexitcentral this evening that the UK needs a trade policy "made in Britain, not Brussels", and that staying in the "protectionist racket" customs union would be a "betrayal of the referendum result".
But other MPs such as treasury select committee chair Nicky Morgan, who was one of the politicians to table the motion on remaining in a customs union, have fallen on the other side of the fence.
Morgan told the BBC that "sabre-rattling" from party rebels, amid murmurs of a leadership challenge, was "deeply unhelpful".
"If every time Parliament debates this issue or passes an amendment all we end up with is a sort of hysteria and leadership speculation, that is really not in Britain's interests," she said on the Sunday Politics show.