The Prime Minister has set aside December 19 for long-delayed Cabinet talks on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU should look like.
But the number of Remainers in top Government jobs has sparked fears the UK could persue a soft Brexit.
Just five current Cabinet ministers – Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and Penny Mordaunt – voted to leave the EU last year.
The other 15 all backed Remain, including Chancellor Philip Hammond and Mrs May’s closest ally Damian Green.
Each minister will be “encouraged to spell out their ideas” about Brexit, according to sources close to Mrs May.
But Government insiders denied the meetings would become a showdown between Brexiteers and Remainers.
She told the Times that the Prime Minister was focused on finding a consensus about a future trade deal with Brussels.
The Cabinet will hold long-awaited talks on Brexit on December 19
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A Cabinet source added: “The Prime Minister has done very well so far. But deciding on the end state is going to be more tricky.
“It’s more likely that the Brexiteers will walk out if they don’t get their way than Remainers doing that, so she is going to have to find some ground that keeps Boris and Gove from doing a Heseltine.”
“Everything has been moving towards the point where we finally have to make a decision on what we want, and that will be the crunch moment.”
Theresa May meets European Council president Donald Tusk in Brussels
Mr Hammond shocked MPs this week by revealing the Cabinet had not yet held specific talks on the future relationship – 18 months after the referendum.
He told the Treasury select committee: “The cabinet has had general discussions about our Brexit negotiations, but we haven’t had a specific mandating of an end-state position.
“We are not yet at that stage and it would have been premature to have that discussion before we reach that stage.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson campaigned to leave the EU last year
His comments forced Downing Street to arrange a date for ministers to thrash out the Government’s position.
But pro-EU MPs claimed they were further evidence of Cabinet splits over Brexit.
Labour’s Alison McGovern said: “The Government is flailing around trying to get agreement to move on to talks on the future UK-EU relationship.
“Yet they don’t even know what they want that relationship to be once they make that progress. They are breathtakingly dysfunctional.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond is one of 15 Cabinet ministers who voted Remain
Lib Dem leader Vince Cable added: “Philip Hammond says we will have to pay the £50bn divorce settlement regardless of whether we land a trade deal, but I suspect the Brexiteers in the Cabinet will have something fairly colourful to say about that.
“The most acrimonious divorce of all could be about to take place within the Cabinet.
“Ministers are behaving like a couple no longer on speaking terms but forced to live under the same roof.”
Anti-EU campaigners fear the UK could be heading for a soft Brexit
Anti-EU campaigners yesterday warned the UK could be heading for a soft Brexit.
A clause tucked away in the Brexit Phase 1 document reveals Britain may simply mirror EU law on the single market and customs union.
It says the UK could “maintain full alignment with the rules of the internal market and the customs union” to solve the Irish border issue.
The clause could render the whole process pointless and be the final nail in the coffin for Brexiteers seeking to completely sever ties to the EU.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage accused Mrs May of “capitulating” to the EU’s demands, saying the UK has been “humiliated”.