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Grantham MP says Theresa May is "losing the confidence" of her colleagues

Nick Boles says Theresa May is losing the trust of cabinet members in her ability to negotiate a deal with the European Union.

The Grantham & Stamford MP also told BBC radio this morning that extending Britain's membership of the European Union could cost the country 18 billion Euros (£15.8Bn).

Mr Boles told the Today programme:

“I’m afraid she is losing the confidence now of colleagues of all shades of opinion - people who’ve been supportive of her throughout this process."

“They are close to despair at the state of this negotiation because there is a fear that both the government and the European Union are trying to run out the clock. That they’re trying to leave this so late that they can then credibly say there is no alternative but a no-deal Brexit and most people agree that would be chaos.

“Now that is not an acceptable way for a leader of a government to behave.”

His comments came as Theresa May today raised the possibility of extending the UK’s transition period with the EU until the end of 2021.

However, Mr Boles warned such a move could cost the UK billions more than some have feared.

He said: "Let’s focus on the price for a minute. The price of an extra year people agree is not going to be 10 billion euros, it’s going to be 18 billion extra euros because we enter a new budget period for the EU when contributions are going up.

“So that’s 18 billion euros for a single extra 12 months, to secure an agreement that we were told previously would only require us to be in a transition period until December 2020.”

He continued "The alternative that I and now others are proposing is instead of this very expensive transition, that we go into the EEA and EFTA, in a position like Norway’s, and from there we’ll negotiate our relationship.

“It would have the huge advantage of having lower contributions, a good deal less than full members of the EU because it is not a part of the Common Agricultural Policy.

‘If we were in that position it would be up to us to decide when we were ready to move on, and it would be much, much less expensive.”

Mr Boles' latest comments follow his earlier criticisms of the Prime Minister.

Two weeks ago, he attacked Theresa May for spending 18 months "chasing unicorns" over Brexit.

He wrote in the London Evening Standard that her government has “squandered time, frittered away our negotiating leverage and forfeited the goodwill of the British people” with her Chequers proposals.

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