A lot going on today on the Brexit front. No, come back, don’t leave. There is a lot going on today on the Brexit front, and some of it really matters.

First, in a remarkable development, the British cabinet appears to be united. The European Commission’s appalling behaviour on the Galileo project, with the EU dismissing as unreliable the UK, Europe’s leading security and intelligence power, has infuriated ministers and officials across the board and angered some national capitals. Bruno Waterfield and Oliver Wright in the Times have the story.

Incidentally, my column for The Times today says we need to stop moping around and stand up to the bullies in the Commission. That does not mean compromise is out – but surely can we stop behaving as though everything is hopeless? Don’t answer that.

The other major development is the revelation (or further push for the original assumptions, say some) that the Max Fac solution to customs post-Brexit could cost as much as £20bn.

To recap:

– The cabinet is split on what sort of customs arrangement the UK will have with the EU post-Brexit. We must leave THE customs union. It is the essence of the EU, the underpinning of the EU and its legal structure. Then what?

– Purist Brexiteers want Max Fac – the name given to a series of technological solutions, cameras and pre-registration.

– Those in favour of compromise back a plan designed by Oliver Robbins, the lead official on Brexit. It is called the Customs Partnership, and would mean the UK collecting the EU’s external tariff and passing it on to the EU, and giving rebates to business.

– The EU originally dismissed both plans, but there are indications (from Ireland and Brussels) that the Customs Partnership might be doable.

What enlivens the situation is that on Wednesday a leading official who knows what he is talking about dropped the bombshell that Max Fac could cost as much as £20bn – per year. Jon Thomson, the chief executive of HMRC, said that businesses would have to pay £32.50 for every customs declaration under the Max Fac proposal.

Astonishingly, the cabinet has not discussed this £20bn bill or, we understand, been briefed on it. What the hell have they been doing?

A mighty and furious campaign for Max Fac has been waged in some newspapers and by the ERG group of Tory MPs. And here we are, at five minutes to midnight and it turns out that none of the supporters

In conclusion, it looks as though Max Fac is sunk and May’s approach is winning on this crucial aspect of Brexit. Why? That £20bn figure is kryptonite to hardline Brexiteers. Why? We are well past the point the point where cries of “Project Fear” will suffice to swat it away. This is not a set of long range projections miles in the distance. This is a key official saying here is the bill.

In response, if you object, and say the bill for business is not £20bn, then what is it exactly or as near damn it? If it’s not £20bn might it be, er, £350m per week…

Look, some of my best friends are Max Faxers. I get the whole vibe – groovy technology, innovative Britain – but Brexit is nine months away. If their defence is to say breezily “it’ll be much less than £20bn, and here have a look at this old catalogue from Maplin with lots of cameras and drones in it” then the scheme is in practical political terms done for in the House of Commons considering the parliamentary arithmetic.

Personally, I just want that to get on with. Say you’ll review it in three years. Set up a commission to monitor technological developments over th enext decade so that elements of Max Fac can be studied and bolted on. Call the immediate compromise (a version of May’s Customs Partnership) that emerges in the next few weeks from this cabinet farce the Customs Compact, or the Magic Customs Compromise Partnership Arrangement. Call it Jim. Call it Catherine. Call it Spud. Call it whatever gets you going or gives you the cover to retreat.

Just accept how late it is. Decide. Accept. Put the government position firmly to the Commission, negotiate, and then get… it… done.