- Theresa May is struggling to unite the Cabinet at a crunch Chequers summit
- Marathon meeting at PM's country residence is happening amid great secrecy
- Mrs May trying to push through her 'third way' plan for trade ties to the EU
- Brexiteers claim the blueprint would prevent Britain doing trade deal with US
Theresa May issued an extraordinary threat to Cabinet Brexiteers today that plenty of 'talented' Tories are ready to take their jobs if they quit over her plan for future ties with the EU.
Amid a high-stakes summit at Chequers, the PM made clear she is ready to face down Eurosceptic ministers and replace them with a 'new generation'.
Allies also warned that ministers who resign will immediately be stripped of their official car - forcing them to call a taxi or walk miles to the nearest train station.
But defiant Tory MPs responded to the unprecedented sabre-rattling by offering to drive up to the remote country pile and collect rebels.
The bitter clashes came as Mrs May mounts an all-out bid to force through her 'third way' trade plan despite a massive onslaught from more than half-a-dozen senior ministers led by Boris Johnson.
They are incandescent that the blueprint would commit to aligning with EU regulations, obeying European judges, and effectively giving up on a comprehensive trade deal with the US.
David Cameron intervened to shore up Mrs May by urging Mr Johnson not to resign at a private heart-to-heart last night.
Boris Johnson (left) held crisis talks with six Eurosceptic ministers for a private meeting ahead of Theresa May's (right) crunch summit at Chequers
Any ministers choosing to quit could face a long walk from Chequers as the drive is almost a mile long
Michael Gove (left) and David Gauke were among the key players spotted arriving for the Chequers summit today
Security is high at the Buckinghamshire estate today - and there are also tight restrictions on ministers' contact with the outside world
Tory MP Peter Bone reacted to No10 threats to strip resigning ministers of their official cars by offering to come and pick them up
The talks at the premier's Chequers country residence are being held in great secrecy, with ministers' phones and even smart watches confiscated.
Special advisers have also been barred from attending in a bid to ensure there are no leaks. However, civil servants will be on hand to redraft the document.
Mrs May is almost certain to have the majority of the 29-strong Cabinet behind her if she pushes the 120-page plan to a vote, but a bloc of ministers resigning could fatally damage her government.
As Brexiteers mobilised against the proposals last night, seven Cabinet ministers gathered in Mr Johnson's office to discuss tactics for watering down, or even killing off the PM's plans.
Cabinet will fight it out over Brexit policy in this room at the 16th Century Chequers estate
Politics professor Andy Westwood helpfully produced a map for any ministers considering a walkout from the Chequers summit
Home Secretary Sajid Javid (left) and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have sided with Brexiteers in previous Cabinet debates
Development secretary Penny Mordaunt (left) and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey (right) also joined Mr Johnson at last night's meeting
Chief Treasury Secretary Liz Truss posted a picture today showing how she was preparing for the Chequers showdown
Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom (left) and trade secretary Liam Fox (right) were present
Environment Secretary Michael Gove (pictured left before leaving for Chequers today) and Brexit secretary David Davis (right) were among the Eurosceptic ministers meeting Boris Johnson at the Foreign Office last night
The Foreign Secretary was joined by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, Brexit Secretary David Davis, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt for the talks, which lasted for over an hour.
Downing Street angrily denied that Mrs May's third way would prevent a trade deal with the US - and she appears to have peeled off Dr Fox from the group after one-on-one talks last night.
Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington voiced confidence about getting agreement at Chequers, saying there had been some 'pretty selective leaks' from Brexiteers.
'What the PM is wanting to do today is to have a package of proposals that delivers on the referendum verdict, that takes back control of our laws and ends the jurisdiction of the European court in the UK, and places power clearly with Parliament,' he told the BBC.
'But we need to do that in a way that minimises the disruption to British jobs and British trade, investment in this country.'
Mr Lidington hit out at claims that Mrs May's plan would bar a trade deal being done with the US after Brexit.
'It is categorically not the case to suggest we would be unable to strike a trade deal with the US or any other country under the PM's package of proposals today.
'She has always been very clear our objective is to get a comprehensive and ambitious trade deal with the US and other countries.'
He said the Prime Minister was proposing a 'common rulebook' with the EU on industrial goods and agricultural products 'for good practical reasons', such as preventing time-sensitive items like food from being held up at borders.
He said: 'It will not be the European legislators or the European court that would be deciding the common rulebook. 'Any change to the rules is something that would have to go through Parliament and be accepted by Parliament.'
As tensions escalated, allies of Mrs May said resigning ministers will be immediately stripped of their official cars - humiliatingly forcing them to catch a taxi or walk miles to the nearest rail station.
'Taxi cards for Astons the taxi firm are in the foyer for those who decide they can't face making the right decision for the country but it will still be a long walk as it is a mile long driveway,' one told the Times.
But Tory MP Peter Bone reacted by offering to come and pick up Brexiteer ministers from the grand Buckinghamshire house.
'I will be on my way with my car, 4 seats available, guess another couple of cars will be required!' he tweeted.
The third way is so called because it is a compromise between a 'maximum facilitation' deal backed by Brexiteers, which would reduce customs controls and barriers, and a new customs partnership, which is supported by Remainers.
In a statement overnight, the PM said she wanted a deal that 'allows us to deliver the benefits of Brexit - taking control of our borders, laws and money and signing ambitious new trade deals with countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand'.
Ministers will be warned at the meeting that Britain could be forced into staying in the customs union unless they agree a Brexit compromise.
Anti-Brexit protesters had also made their way to Chequers for the Cabinet summit today
Mrs May has been engaged in a charm offensive with EU leaders in advance of the showdown, briefing Angela Merkel on the plans in Berlin yesterday (pictured) before they were even seen by the Cabinet
David Cameron intervened to shore up Mrs May by urging Mr Johnson not to resign at a private heart-to-heart last night. The two men are pictured together in 2015
But failure to reach an agreement could throw Mrs May into even deeper disarray, ahead of key Commons votes being held on July 16 and 17.
A Government source said: 'The truth is, it's this or the customs union.'
Selected leaks from the policy document said the UK 'should maintain a common rulebook for all goods, including agri-food'.
It said the UK would keep pace with new EU regulations in these areas after leaving.
The plan would help resolve the Northern Ireland border problem but Eurosceptic MPs said it would wreck hopes of a clean break with the EU.
Leaks also suggested a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ), albeit at arms length.
The document stated: 'UK courts must follow ECJ jurisprudence where relevant.'
Former Brexit minister David Jones described the proposals as 'entirely unacceptable'.
He said: 'I hope and expect the Cabinet to reject them. Quite simply, this is not what people voted for in 2016. This is not Brexit.'
Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns, who quit the Government last month to speak out on Brexit, said: 'We Brexiteers cannot support any deal that restricts our trade with other countries.
'I need to see the details but from what we are hearing I'd be prepared to vote against this.' Downing Street said it was 'categorically untrue' that the proposals would prevent a US trade deal.
Sources pointed out that the UK would be free to cut tariffs, set quotas and offer deals on the powerful services sector.
However, even if the Cabinet can reach agreement it is far from clear that the EU will get on board with the plan.
Eurocrat sources have described them as 'dead on arrival' because they require 'cherry picking' the best parts of the single markets without accepting elements such as free movement.