TORY Brexiteers are today expected to demand Theresa May ditches safeguards post Brexit which were designed by the EU to protect employees from working excessive hours.

It has emerged that Cabinet member Michael Gove wants Britain to scrap the working time directive which stops staff in most jobs from working more than 48 hours a week on average.

According to a report yesterday, the environment secretary will be among those pushing the Prime Minister to scrap the legislation after the UK leaves the EU.

One London-based newspaper reported Gove will make the case when the so-called Brexit ‘war Cabinet’ meets today to discuss what the future trade relationship with the EU should look like.

If May concedes to the demand, it would be a major U turn following earlier comments in which she said her party would guarantee all rights currently enjoyed by workers by virtue of EU membership.

A second paper quoted one unnamed minister saying scrapping the working time directive “is what taking back control is all about”.

“One or two Brexiteers have been pushing to scrap this daft directive and there is big support for it in Cabinet,” the source said.

A minister told the paper: “This will give employers the added flexibility they will need once we have left the EU. And it will allow millions of people to earn vital overtime cash.”

But shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner hit back: “The report that Mr Gove is pressing to abolish the regulation that stops people being compelled to work more than 48 hours a week as part of their contract of employment is a worrying signal of where the government is heading post-Brexit. They talk of freedom when in reality they mean abolishing people’s rights and protections.”

Meanwhile, despite facing calls for him to be sacked for undermining May earlier this year over publicising his “red lines” Boris Johnson set out again yesterday his own demands for the county post Brexit.

“What we need to do is something new and ambitious, which allows zero tariffs and frictionless trade but still gives us that important freedom to decide our own regulatory framework, our own laws and do things in a distinctive way in the future,” the Foreign Secretary told the Sunday Times.

He added that if the UK mirrored EU rules, as has been suggested it will need to do to prevent a hard Border in Ireland, Johnson said, people would ask: “‘What is the point of what you have achieved?’ because we would have gone from a member state to a vassal state.”

It also emerged yesterday that the Prime Minister looks set to avoid a humiliating second Commons defeat after a compromise deal was reached within Tory ranks over plans to write the Brexit date in law.

Behind-the-scenes efforts to prevent a revolt appear to have resulted in a situation which will see March 29 2019 written into the government’s Brexit legislation as the Prime Minister promised, but with flexibility allowing the date to be changed if negotiations with Brussels look set to stretch beyond that date.

Remain supporting rebels who helped inflict May’s first Commons defeat on Wednesday lined up behind the compromise, which has been put forward by prominent backbenchers on both sides of the EU referendum divide. The Government is understood to be “looking closely” at the amendment tabled by MPs including Remain supporter Sir Oliver Letwin and Brexiteer Bernard Jenkin - which would give ministers flexibility to change the departure day if Parliament agrees. The Government has not formally supported the move but it would appear certain to back the measure if it presented a way for May to avoid another Commons reverse.

Former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan, one of the rebels who helped inflict May’s first Commons defeat on Wednesday, gave her support to the compromise over the Brexit date.

She said the new amendment “demonstrates how all Conservative MPs can work together” to deliver the best possible Brexit and reflects the flexibility within the Article 50 withdrawal process.The progress in the domestic Brexit battle came hours after May received a boost in Brussels, with the EU27 formally agreeing to allow negotiations to proceed to their second phase.

May was boosted by a statement agreed by the EU27 at the European Council summit in Brussels, which left the door open for “exploratory contacts” early in 2018 to allow Brussels to gain greater “clarity” on the UK’s ambitions. But the formal process is likely to run to a slower timetable, with guidelines for trade talks not due to be approved until March, when European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the “real negotiations” would begin.