Minister denies rumours of 'plot to gag' Philip Hammond over soft Brexit

The Justice Secretary has denied rumours of a plot to “gag” Cabinet members who want a softer Brexit.

David Gauke’s remarks came after it emerged the three leading Cabinet Brexiteers will all give key note speeches on the UK’s EU withdrawal stance.

But Chancellor Philip Hammond will not take part in the co-ordinated bid to set out the Government’s position.

Mr Gauke told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “He is not part of the set of speeches that have been outlined today, but that doesn’t mean that the Chancellor is not expressing his views both internally in the Cabinet conversations, but also externally.

Justice Secretary David Gauke speaks in the House of Commons (PA)

“So, I don’t think that there really is anything in this, that this is somehow any kind of plot to gag a particular faction of ministers. I don’t think that’s a fair characterisation at all.”

In a bid to regain the initiative on Brexit after a rocky few weeks during which Cabinet tensions came to the surface, Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make two keynote addresses. 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will also deliver speeches, but the only minister who backed Remain taking part in the project is Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.

Mr Johnson will call for unity over Brexit as the speeches begin on Wednesday.

Mrs May will deliver a major speech on post-Brexit UK-EU security in Germany next Saturday, and will round-off the process in about three weeks’ time with a keynote address on the overall relationship.

The closing speech will follow a special “away day” summit of the Cabinet withdrawal committee at Chequers.

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