Environment Secretary Michael Gove ripped up papers on future customs options in anger after his concerns about the proposals were downplayed.
Details of a white paper setting out the UK’s plans for issues including trade and customs will be thrashed out by Cabinet ministers on Friday at Chequers.
But tensions over the deep divisions on how to proceed threaten to boil over, with Gove said to have been left livid at a meeting on Wednesday about the options.
Brexiteers oppose a customs partnership with the EU, which would see the UK collect tariffs set by the EU customs union on goods entering the country on behalf of the bloc.
Their “max fac” alternative would, rather than scrapping customs checks, use technology to minimise the need for them.
Theresa May split an inner Cabinet committee on Brexit into two to allow more work to be carried out on each option.
But after six weeks of meetings, a summary drawn up by civil servants on discussions about the customs partnership option favoured by the Prime Minister “downplayed to almost nothing” concerns raised by Gove, according to a column in The Sun.
The Cabinet minister was “livid” and “physically ripped” the document in two, it said. The account has not been disputed.
Both customs systems being considered by the Cabinet have been dismissed by the EU.
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “Gove’s temper tantrum is yet another insight into the deep divides within the Cabinet and the petulance of Brexiteers who can sense that their lies are being exposed.
“It is hard not to despair as ministers like (Boris) Johnson and Gove throw their toys out the pram, while May frantically attempts to tidy them away, hoping that no-one has noticed.
“May’s Cabinet members need to act less like toddlers and more like senior ministers negotiating one of the most important deals in UK history.”