The plans, to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting this afternoon, suggest Britain will diverge from a series of key EU rules and regulations but keep the power to go back in at a later stage, according to senior British officials.
Three areas where the Government wants to diverge after Brexit to be agricultural subsidies, financial services regulation and trade policy, an official told Politico.
Another official added free movement and recouping EU money for public services were also at the top of the agenda.
While the proposal reportedly has support within the Cabinet it is likely to spark concerns within the Tory ‘soft Brexit’ camp that it could lead to a hard Brexit, and potentially be damaging to the economy.
EU officials have warned that the further the UK pushes itself from EU standards after it leaves the bloc, the worse the final trade deal will be.
The plan to diverge immediately suggests Mrs May is prepared to push for a harder Brexit than expected.
Just last month Brexit Secretary Davis Davis told an exiting the European Union committee “the aim in this whole exercise” was to keep “maximum possible access” to the EU market while getting the freedom to set a different regulatory course.
But he added: “The decision on how that freedom is used will be a matter for future governments and parliaments. I see my task as creating that freedom.
“How far apart we diverge will be a matter for the government thereafter.”
At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, Chancellor Phillip Hammond also suggested the UK would seek limited divergence from the EU, telling an audience the EU and UK economies would just move “hopefully, very modestly apart”.
There has been a series of rows between Brexit enthusiasts and more sceptical ministers about how closely the UK should be linked to Brussels after its departure.￼
But Cabinet ministers held a “productive” meeting in their attempt to thrash out their Brexit differences, a Downing Street source said last night.
Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond and other Tory frontbenchers on Theresa May’s Brexit sub-committee spent two-and-a-half hours yesterday in talks.
Officials were unwilling to disclose details of yesterday’s Downing Street talks, which focused on the issues of migration and the Irish border.
“It was a productive discussion,” the No10 source said. But another source said exchanges were “robust” with hard-line Brexiteer and pro-Brussels ministers digging into their entrenched positions, adding: “People did live up to their stereotypes.”
Insiders fear the talks may become more heated at the second meeting of the sub-committee today as more contentious issues are addressed.