- UK Digital Minister Margot James has resigned from the government to vote to block a no-deal Brexit.
- Parliament approved a motion on Thursday which would prevent Boris Johnson from shutting down parliament to force a no-deal exit from the EU if he becomes prime minister next week.
- Six Cabinet ministers abstained from the vote, meaning Theresa May could be forced to sack them too.
LONDON – A UK government minister has resigned in order to vote to prevent Boris Johnson from forcing through a no-deal Brexit.
Margot James, minister for digital and creative industries, quit her role on Thursday afternoon to rebel against the government whip and support the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill, which will prevent the next prime minister attempting to prorogue the Commons in October.
The bill passed successfully by a majority of 315 to 274, with 17 Conservative rebels voting against the government and a further 30 Conservative MPs abstaining.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, James predicted that more rebels would emerge if and when Boris Johnson becomes prime minister.
“If we do end up with Boris as our PM then I think quite a number of people who would have always been voting with the government will leave and will be doing everything they can with myself and others to make sure we leave with a deal, or carry on negotiating, or we look for another outcome,” she said.
Six Cabinet ministers who are opposed to no deal also abstained on Thursday’s vote.
However, Downing Street signalled on Thursday afternoon that they would not be sacked.
“The Prime Minister is obviously disappointed that a number of Ministers failed to vote in this afternoon’s division,” her spokesman said.
“No doubt her successor will take this into account when forming their government.”
Conservative rebels told Business Insider that Smith, who is expected to leave office next week when the next prime minister appoints a new Cabinet team, might have been disinclined to sack the ministers given that they will almost certainly be departing from office once either Johnson or Jeremy Hunt become prime minister.
Those backing the amendment believed that time was running out to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
One former Conservative minister, who backed the amendment, told Business Insider that his colleagues felt they had “to stand up and be counted
“There are not many opportunities in terms of time and mechanisms. If anything, it is too little too late,” they told Business Insider.
They added that defeating the government on Thursday would be a “show of strength” that could deter Johnson from pursuing no-deal.
“If he doesn’t feel he can get away with it, he won’t go for it… You can change the way he calculates his options by showing strength,” the former minister said.