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Theresa May’s Brexit plans are grounded: Mirror Politics morning briefing

Theresa May had hoped to fly back to Brussels today to sign off the Brexit deal.

But the Prime Minister remains grounded in London waiting for permission to board from Arlene Foster and her Cabinet Brexiteers .

The promised phone call between Mrs May and Ms Foster has yet to take place.

Brexiteers, led by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, have also taken fright after David Davis revealed yesterday that any regulatory alignment – the acceptance of EU rules – would apply not just in Northern Ireland but the whole of the United Kingdom.

Accepting regulatory alignment is not compatible with the concept of taking back control as it would mean we are rule takers under the protectorate of Brussels rather than rule makers.

Theresa May is still waiting for Arlene Foster to pick up the phone

To the Brexiteers' eyes this undermines the central purpose of Brexit which was to strike competitive trade deals with third countries.

Though that is a benign interpretation of their ambitions which would also involve the destruction of rights and regulations and a fundamental reshaping of the social contract that has existed since the birth of the welfare state.

The Labour MP Alison McGovern yesterday asked Davis a highly pertinent question: when did the Cabinet agree that Brexit meant leaving the customs union and the single market?

Davis could not answer and blustered the decision was made when the country voted to leave in June 2016.

What was telling is how unwilling Mrs May has been to include Cabinet ministers, let alone Parliament, on the biggest issue facing this country for 75 years.

It has also been reported that even the Cabinet sub committee on Brexit did not discuss the plans for greater regulatory alignment.

Few should be surprised, therefore, that the Brexit talks are sinking not as a result of EU intransigence but because of the internal contradictions within Government and the UK nations and regions.

Keir Starmer is pushing Labour towards a softer line on Brexit

Mrs May is now in a race against time to square the demands of the DUP, mollify Cabinet Brexiteers and find a solution that will allow the EU to agree at next week’s summit to progress to trade talks.

First, there she has the small matter of Prime Minister’s questions, though Jeremy Corbyn may wish to avoid Brexit given his party’s own contortions on the issue.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer yesterday inched a step closer towards what is perceived to be his central goal by underlining the need to keep the options of remaining in the single market and the customs union on the table .

Labour is less wedded to the single market as it would mean accepting freedom of movement but it has become increasingly flexible on staying in the customs union, not least because it offers the most obvious solution to the Irish border issue.

David Davis appears before the Exiting the EU select committee today having been summoned to explain why he has refused to release in full the government’s impact assessments on Brexit .

To recap: these were the papers which Davis said went into ‘excruciating’ detail on the sectorial impact of Brexit but when asked to release them told MPs they never existed in the form originally claimed.

As usual we will be running our live blog on PMQs followed by a verdict and sketch.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is 'banned from using RAF planes after running up six-figure bill'

In an antidote to political thrill-seeking, Philip Hammond appears before the Treasury select committee at 2pm to defend his Budget.

The Chancellor may wish to explain why the growth forecasts were so dismal, wages are set to remain stagnant and how he failed to mention social care once during his speech.

He could also be questioned about the report in the Times today which says the MoD has banned the Chancellor from using its planes until the Treasury settles its debts for previous trips.

This hardly points to a harmonious, functioning government.

Do listen to our latest Ayes to the Left podcast where we discuss Trump, the Brexit bill and whether Damian Green should have resigned.

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