THERESA May’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, gathered Tory MPs in one of parliament’s larger committee rooms at 4pm yesterday afternoon in a bid to explain what exactly was happening with Brexit negotiations.

Incredibly, there was a rare agreement between arch-Brexiteer Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and arch-remainer Tory MP Anna Soubry.

Both agreed that different deals for different parts of the UK could only threaten the union.

The meeting, which was addressed by Barwell and Brexit minister Steve Baker, was heated, with a number of MPs incredulous that the government had agreed on Northern Ireland aligning regulation with Dublin. Barwell assured them May had not agreed the proposal put forward by the Irish Government.

Rees-Mogg was clear Tory MPs would simply not allow it. “We cannot align the regulation of one part of the United Kingdom with the European Union,” he said. “If we align the whole of the United Kingdom then we haven’t left the European Union, so there is a logical impossibility of doing what the Irish Government proposes,” he told reporters outside the meeting.

Rees-Mogg, who is now the favourite among party members to replace May, said the Tory backbenchers and DUP were in agreement. “We are not going to trade on distinctions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” he said. “That would be completely intolerable. We are the Conservative and Unionist party after all.”

The MP accused the Irish Government of spreading propaganda.

Soubry, meanwhile, said the simple solution would be for the UK to stay in the single market and the customs union. “Nobody could want one part of our country to have a different set of rules to another part of the country. On that, Jacob and I are absolutely agreed. The sense in the room is that nobody wanted that.

“If we stay in the single market, that solves the problem.”