A SERIOUS split has emerged between the Cabinet’s most senior Brexiteers following the Chequers meeting that agreed the UK Government’s “soft Brexit” approach to negotiations with the European Union.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is said to have described the exercise of agreeing a joint Cabinet stance as “polishing a turd”, and he then came under pressure from Brexiteer allies for caving in and agreeing to Prime Minister Theresa May’s package, which includes maintaining “a common rule book for all goods”, including agricultural products, after Brexit and accepting the guidance if not the judgments of the European Court of Justice.

One Tory MP, Andrew Bridgen, compared the Foreign Secretary to Neville Chamberlain, accusing him of “waving the white flag of appeasement in the direction of Brussels”.

The MP for North West Leicestershire said Jacob Rees-Mogg was now the only alternative as Prime Minister.

That the hard Brexiteers have been thwarted emerged yesterday when Environment Secretary Michael Gove backed May’s plans.

He told the BBC it was not all he hoped for, but said he was a “realist” and dismissed claims it would leave the UK as a “vassal state”.

Gove infamously betrayed Johnson in the 2016 Tory leadership contest and he is now being given credit for helping to get Brexiteers in the Cabinet to oppose Johnson’s view and back May.

He said: “In all the important areas where an independent country chooses to exercise sovereignty, the UK will be able to do so and, in so doing, respect the referendum result and the mandate we were given.

Asked if Mrs May’s offer was all he had hoped for, he replied: “No, but then I’m a realist and one of the things about politics is you mustn’t, you shouldn’t, make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

However, he added: “We are being generous to the EU, we are showing flexibility. If the EU is not generous and flexible, we may have to contemplate walking away without a deal.”