Britain asks companies to publicly back Brexit strategy

Steve Baker a minister in the Brexit department encouraged fellow Conservative MPs to sign a letter against stated government policy that may have put him in breach of the principle of cabinet collective responsibility

But the move by the backbench caucus, which coordinates parliamentary tactics and funds research backing a hard Brexit, was widely regarded at Westminster as a show of strength, after a summer in which opinion in the cabinet had appeared to be shifting towards a closer relationship with the European Union after March 2019.

The Lords' Constitution Committee, responsible for examining all Public Bills, raised major concerns about the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, previously called the Repeal Bill. Already there is talk about a compromise involving votes on statutory instruments on the floor of the House.

It also expresses confidence in the future of "a global Britain" and says that the Government's Repeal Bill will "make Britain ready for life outside the EU".

When you consider all this, it is-perhaps - unsurprising that, as I say in the magazine this week, almost all Tory MPs have decided that Theresa May's role is to see the party through Brexit.

During a bruising debate in the House of Commons lasting nearly five hours on Thursday, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, indicated he was willing to accommodate improvements to the key piece of legislation for taking Britain out of the European Union in March 2019.

But one ERG supporter told the Sun: "This is what we'd like the Government position to be". Two other sources said they were reluctant to commit.

"I don't think the country was prepared for this period that we're now in".

But a senior MP said the letter they were accused of backing had been "unacceptable" and was part of a plot to "undermine" attempts by Chancellor Philip Hammond to avoid a cliff-edge Brexit.

Baker, a former chair of the group and one of the key leaders of the Leave campaign, was accused of involvement because he posted a message saying "thanks for everyone's support" but he says he was thanking members for cheering him in the Commons, not for signing the letter.

United Kingdom businesses are increasingly concerned that moves to leave the single market and customs union would damage their operations.

News of the letter came on the same day that many business groups expressed grave concerns over leaked draft government proposals to clamp down on United Kingdom companies' ability to recruit workers from the EU. Ministers and aides seen to encourage them may have breached collective government responsibility.

Sources said the approach from officials had been accompanied by a request to sign it before the end of the week.

The second source said they had "no appetite to sign".

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