BORIS VOWS TO BOOT OUT BREXIT REBELS
● PM demands MPs' backing in crunch week ● Gove slaps down Barnier
BORIS Johnson is determined to crush a rebellion by Tory MPs seeking to sabotage his Brexit plans.
Ahead of what is almost certain to be a decisive parliamentary clash in the coming days, the Prime Minister has instructed Tory whips to punish rebels trying to block a no-deal Brexit by booting them out of the party.
He also plans to rip up any legislation passed by the Commons to force the Government to ask Brussels for yet another Brexit delay. Last night, a Downing Street
said: “He wants MPs to understand it is their role to deliver Brexit and they need to face up to it.”
Mr Johnson’s defiant warning came as MPs in the cross-party “Remain alliance” – led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – finalised their strategy for tomorrow’s Commons assault.
They are unhappy with the Prime Minister’s decision to cut the current parliamentary session short and push ahead with leaving the EU with or without a deal on October 31. Mr Corbyn yesterday signalled his readiness to cause parliamentary mayhem and encourage more anti-Brexit protests by vowing to do “everything necessary” to frustrate the Prime Minister.
With MPs set to return to Westminster tomorrow at the end of their summer break, Mr Johnson will today warn Tory rebels that their careers in the party will be over if they side with Labour.
He was due to meet 21 MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit – including former chancellor Philip Hammond and former justice secretary David Gauke – at No10 today.
But after Mr Gauke told the BBC he was prepared to lose the Tory whip by voting against the Government, Downing Street officials cancelled the summit, blaming “diary pressures”.
A statement from the Tory rebels last night said: “Aside from being deeply dissource courteous, today’s behaviour shows this is not a Government interested in compromise. These MPs want proof that there is a genuine and sincere attempt to get a deal.
“The fact that the Prime Minister isn’t even prepared to meet them suggests there isn’t.”
Mr Johnson last night warned MPs that any parliamentary skulduggery risked undermining his final push for a revamped Withdrawal Agreement that would allow the UK to quit the EU with a deal.
It came as the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier rejected the Prime Minister’s call for the controversial Irish backstop to be scrapped. But Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister in charge of planning for a no-deal Brexit, last night slapped down Mr Barnier and insisted Mr Johnson was “making progress” in his bid to secure a new deal.
A senior source from the whips office told how they had been instructed to give Tory MPs “a very simple message”.
The source said: “If they fail to vote with the Government on Tuesday, they will be destroying the Government’s negotiating position and handing control of Parliament to Jeremy Corbyn.
“Any Conservative MP who does this will have the whip withdrawn and will
not stand as Conservative candidate in an election. There is a chance of a deal on October 17 [when the European Council is next due to meet] only because Brussels realises the Prime Minister is totally committed to leaving on October 31.
“All MPs face a simple choice on Tuesday – to vote with the Government and preserve the chance of a deal or vote with Corbyn and destroy any chance of a deal.”
In a bellicose speech today, Mr Corbyn is expected to step up his threat to scupper a no-deal Brexit by claiming he is doing “everything necessary to pull our country back from the brink”.
Anti-Brexit MPs are hoping Commons Speaker John Bercow – who met leading Tory plotter Sir Oliver Letwin last week – will allow parliamentary time for them to try and change the law.
MPs are braced for angry debates over the coming days, with expectations that sitting sessions could go into the early hours and possibly be held over the weekend.
Mr Corbyn has also indicated he could trigger a motion of no-confidence in the Government later this week to try and topple Mr Johnson.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer yesterday confirmed Labour intended to table a “simple” parliamentary bill designed to outlaw a no-deal Brexit. Sir Keir told the BBC it would be “unlawful” for Mr Johnson to take Britain out of the EU without a deal.
But Mr Gove, refused to rule out the Government ignoring a Commons vote on the Bill. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, he said: “Let’s see what the legislation says.
“You’re asking me about a pig in a poke. And I will wait to see what legislation the opposition may try to bring forward.”
Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said Labour would “try anything” to get the referendum result cancelled.