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They have also been angered by Hammond’s reluctance to spend money preparing for the chance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, which they say makes failure in the Brussels negotiations more likely because it ‘weakens our hand’.
There are already signs that the enfeebled PM has been forced to act on their demands: her pledge on Friday to enshrine in law the start of Brexit is in the spirit of their call for a strict timeline for the transition.
If we are to counter those who wish to frustrate that end, there are ways of underlining your resolve.
We are profoundly worried that in some parts of Government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy.
Clearly, both issues still rankle with Mr Johnson and Mr Gove, who write: ‘We are profoundly worried that in some parts of Government the current preparations are not proceeding with anything like sufficient energy…
We all want you to push your agenda forward with confidence and have your Government articulate the following’ – and set out their own Brexit manifesto.
The letter ends with a conspiratorial offer by the pair to meet Mrs May to discuss her response ‘as and when you consider wise’.
The Cabinet heavyweights made a series of veiled threats in a secret missive to the Prime Minister – which contained blunt instructions on how she should deliver the ‘hard Brexit’ they demand.
Mr Johnson and Mr Gove do not name Mr Hammond but refer to his comment that Britain had to engage in ‘sincere co-operation’ with the EU, saying such a stance would ‘leave us over a barrel’.
The pair also warn Mrs May to rein in Mr Hammond over claims he refuses to spend public money planning for a ‘no deal’ outcome.
And the ‘Whitehall machine’ and its ‘ossified ways of working’ cannot be ‘left to its own devices’ to deliver Brexit.
New high-powered staff are needed to ‘apply grit to the oyster’.
In another jibe at Ministers such as Mr Hammond who opposed leaving the EU, it says Mrs May must ensure all Cabinet members take the same tough line on Brexit – ‘whatever their original positions during the referendum’.