PM expects Cabinet agreement on Brexit despite Boris Johnson row

British Prime Minister Theresa May will make an eagerly anticipated Brexit speech in Florence on Friday, seeking to unlock stalled negotiations with Brussels as well as quell divisions in her own cabinet.

Mrs May will renew her efforts to show who is in charge on Thursday, with a special Cabinet meeting on the eve of her speech.

"So if Mrs May is as vague on the three questions as Mr Johnson was in her speech in Florence then the signs will not be good".

The British foreign secretary made the remarks after rumors spread that he was planning to resign because he "could not live with" May's soft approach to Brexit, which involved paying billions of pounds to the European Union after the transition period to secure permanent access to the single market.

Rumours have circulated that Johnson told friends he could "not live" with the proposed deal, according to the Telegraph.

Mr Johnson told journalists in NY yesterday that the Cabinet was unified in its stance, describing it as a "nest of singing birds".

"We're working together, and the key thing is to make sure Britain can take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit provides".

Late on Monday Mr Johnson openly discussed leaving office in an interview, having shocked the political establishment late on Friday with his Telegraph essay that argued that Britain shouldn't offer cash to access its biggest market.

Clarke, who is the Conservatives' most high-profile Europhile, accused the foreign secretary of "repeating one of the more simplistic and dishonest arguments of the hardline leavers during the referendum campaign".

Boris Johnson could resign if Theresa May signals she will pursue a "Swiss-style" Brexit, even though he is publicly denying he will walk away from the cabinet.

This option is known by critics as the "EEA-lite", similar to the arrangements adopted by Switzerland, which would be a way of preserving the benefits of the single market.

"We are a nest of singing birds".

Speaking on the BBC's Today Programme this morning, prominent Remainer Clarke said the foreign secretary's "personal publicity" was an "irrelevant nuisance".

Downing Street has been tight-lipped about Mrs May's speech, seen as the most important intervention on Brexit since her Lancaster House address in January.

Boris Johnson has insisted he will not be resigning from the cabinet over #Brexit but said he hoped the prime minister would avoid hitching the United Kingdom too closely to the European Union after its departure.

  • Rogelio Becker