- Theresa May is facing a massive rebellion from moderate MPs who are desperate to take the prospect of a no-deal Brexit off the table.
- Up to 100 MPs and 25 ministers are considering voting against the government next week in a series of crunch votes on Brexit to support a plan which would require the prime minister to seek an Article 50 extension.
- The Brexit Delivery Group of both Leave and Remain MPs warned in a letter that growing numbers of MPs were preparing to support the plan.
- Ministers are also prepared to resign to support it.
LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May is about to be hit by major rebellions from both wings of the Conservative party as up to 100 moderate MPs prepare to try and force a no-deal Brexit off the table, while Brexit-supporting MPs threaten to “end the government” if she does so.
As the UK’s scheduled EU departure date on March 29 edges closer, the prime minister is poised to suffer a huge rebellion from pro-Remain MPs, including dozens of ministers, who could vote for an amendment which seeks to remove take no deal off the table.
The Brexit Delivery Group, which represents both Leave and Remain supporting MPs, said in a leaked letter that “numerous” MPs were “deeply troubled” by the prospect of leaving without a deal, and would be voting for amendments to the prime minister’s plan which force the prime minister to delay Brexit if she couldn’t secure parliamentary support for her deal.
“Numerous members of our group have alerted us to their intention (should rejection of the deal look likely) to get behind amendments that are planned in the name of Oliver Letwin and others and which will have the twin effect of taking no deal off the table and delaying Brexit.”
Up to 25 ministers, including as many as four Cabinet ministers, are also understood to be considering voting against the government on the amendment, which would seek to force Theresa May to avert a no-deal Brexit by setting aside parliamentary time for a bill which compelled her to ask the EU for an Article 50 extension.
Informal Brexit talks with the EU have been scheduled for a summit in Egypt on Sunday, although Downing Street has dismissed suggestions of a formal breakthrough then.
Brexiteers threaten to ‘end the government’
Meanwhile the European Research Group of hardline Tory Brexiteers threatened to “end the government” if Theresa May delays the UK’s EU departure, the FT reported.
Members of the group, which counts around 60 MPs, said they would paralyse Theresa May’s administration by refusing to vote for any legislation.
“If she said she’d extend Article 50, there’d be 20-plus [ERG] MPs who would just take their bat and ball home: no domestic legislation, no Brexit legislation, they just wouldn’t be showing up any more,” one ERG MP told the paper.
“It would effectively end the government . . . [Mrs May] has been absolutely firm for months and months we leave on the 29th [March] . . . If she went back on that . . . there would be carnage.”
Andrew Percy, a Brexit supporter who backs the prime minister’s deal, claimed Brexiteers who opposed it were in “total denial about the parliamentary arithmetic.”
“The game they have thus far been playing is not going to end well for them,” he added. “It could perhaps end with no Brexit, which a lot of us have spent our whole careers campaigning for.”
There is a growing sense among centre-ground Conservative MPs that Brexiteer MPs are starting to come back to supporting May’s deal.
“The dynamics among the the ERG [pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs] is changing,” one moderate Conservative MP told Business Insider last week.
“The ERG are splintering and lots of them are coming around to the deal through gritted teeth.”
They added: “I say to them ‘look you’re playing a really dangerous game here that may end up in no Brexit at all’ and while some of them still aren’t listening to that argument, lots of them are now starting to.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.