Chancellor Phillip Hammond posted on Twitter December 19 in an attempt to hose down rumors of a cabinet split amid claims he accused the Environment and Agricultural Secretary Michael Gove of lying about promises to spend money the UK currently pays into the EU Budget on the National Health Service.
The same day the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier ruled out the possibility of the City of London and its crucial financial services having any special relationship with the bloc once Britain has left the Customs Union and the Single Market, throwing the Government's hopes for a post-Brexit trade deal into disarray. The UK's Secretary for Exiting the European Union David Davis fired back, insisting that the EU cannot "cherry-pick" the conditions it wants for its future UK relationship.
Yesterday’s cabinet meeting very constructive, looking forward to today’s in same spirit. Telegraph reports wide of the mark.— Philip Hammond (@PhilipHammondUK) December 19, 2017
Mr. Barnier's insistence that Britain must continue to the rules of the Customs Union and Single Market during any transitional period has infuriated Conservatives advocating a clean break from Brussels, with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg calling on the Prime Minister to "show metal and steel" in response to the EU's demands.
A Prime Minister Under Siege
On December 14 rebellious members of the Conservative Party voted against the Government's EU Withdrawal Bill, ensuring its defeat. Analysts and media commentators have widely opined that the anti-Brexit rebels in the Tory Party surrounding former attorney-general Dominic Grieve could make a habit of defying the Prime Minister on the passage of key Brexit-related legislation. Since the defeat, Theresa May has come under pressure to cooperate with members of the Opposition Labour Party to pursue a so-called "Soft Brexit" arrangement with the European Union.