May told to quit if she loses vote

Cab­i­net min­is­ters say PM must get bet­ter terms or re­sign as Brexit deal has ‘zero’ chance of suc­cess

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Steven Swin­ford Deputy po­lit­i­cal ed­i­tor

THERESA MAY has been warned by Cab­i­net min­is­ters she will have to quit if her Brexit deal is de­feated in the Com­mons next week and she fails to se­cure bet­ter terms from the EU, The Daily Tele­graph can dis­close.

Min­is­ters be­lieve the chances of her deal pass­ing a Com­mons vote on Tues­day are “zero” af­ter it was pub­licly crit­i­cised by more than 100 Tory MPS.

One Cab­i­net minister said Mrs May would fall if she was de­feated and failed to go back to Brus­sels to fun­da­men­tally rene­go­ti­ate the EU With­drawal Agree­ment.

It came as Iain Dun­can Smith, a Euroscep­tic Tory MP and the for­mer Con­ser­va­tive party leader, warned for the first time that Mrs May could have to go if she and her Cab­i­net de­cided to “brazen it out” in the wake of the vote. He told The Tele­graph: “How the PM re­sponds af­ter the vote mat­ters more than any­thing else she has done. I be­lieve that if the re­sponse is, ‘we’ve lost but we will do this all over again’, it will be­come a lead­er­ship is­sue.

“I don’t want it to be. If she and the Cab­i­net de­cide to brazen it out and sim­ply say [a de­feat of ] any­thing un­der 200 is not as big as you think, then that would be a dis­as­ter.”

Down­ing Street is now braced for fur­ther res­ig­na­tions. The Tele­graph un­der­stands that three mid­dle-rank­ing Euroscep­tic min­is­ters are con­sid­er­ing quit­ting be­cause they can­not back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal.

Mrs May was con­fronted on Thurs­day by Cab­i­net min­is­ters who de­manded she give de­tails on a “Plan B” for Brexit. But she de­clined, with Down­ing Street yesterday re­ject­ing Cab­i­net calls for the vote to be de­layed.

Tory Euroscep­tics will to­day in­crease pres­sure on Mrs May as Boris Johnson, David Davis and Priti Pa­tel ad­dress grass­roots Con­ser­va­tives.

Ms Pa­tel will say: “This deal doesn’t de­liver for the coun­try, it doesn’t de­liver for Leave vot­ers and it cer­tainly doesn’t de­liver for Con­ser­va­tive Party mem­bers.” If it is re­jected by Par­lia­ment, Mrs May will next week be pressed by Cab­i­net min­is­ters to go back to Brus­sels and rene­go­ti­ate the With­drawal Agree­ment.

One said: “She has said she’s a bloody dif­fi­cult woman. She has got to go back to Brus­sels and come up with some­thing that MPS can get be­hind. She should be bloody dif­fi­cult with them, not her own MPS.”

An­other said that the “sur­vival of the Con­ser­va­tive Party” was at stake if the Prime Minister suf­fered a heavy de­feat on Tues­day. Cab­i­net min­is­ters are

al­ready split­ting into dif­fer­ent camps with their ri­val Plan Bs. The Tele­graph un­der­stands some Re­main-sup­port­ing min­is­ters are pre­par­ing for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum and are said to be dis­cussing lift­ing col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity so they can cam­paign to stay in.

Cab­i­net Euroscep­tics are draw­ing up plans for a “man­aged no-deal Brexit”, though this is be­ing strongly re­sisted by col­leagues. Other Cab­i­net min­is­ters are plan­ning a Nor­way-style deal that would keep the UK in the sin­gle mar­ket.

And last night Am­ber Rudd be­came the first mem­ber of Cab­i­net to speak openly about the need for a Plan B by de­scrib­ing the a Nor­way-style deal as “plau­si­ble” in a news­pa­per in­ter­view.

In a last-ditch ef­fort to shore up sup­port for the Gov­ern­ment, three Tory back­benchers tabled a Govern­ment­backed amend­ment that would give MPS a vote be­fore Bri­tain en­tered the back­stop. How­ever, Euroscep­tics dis­missed it as legally mean­ing­less.

Mr Johnson, the for­mer for­eign sec­re­tary, yesterday de­scribed the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan as an “S&M ap­proach” that would keep the UK locked in chains. “The man­a­cles have been co-forged, if you like, by us,” he said. “We have de­cided to col­lab­o­rate in our own in­car­cer­a­tion.

“It’s un­be­liev­able. It’s a kind of S&M ap­proach to Gov­ern­ment. What perver­sion is it where you want to be locked up in chains?” He re­peat­edly re­fused to say if he had sub­mit­ted a let­ter ex­press­ing no con­fi­dence in Mrs May.

No 10 yesterday in­sisted the vote would go ahead de­spite calls by min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Gavin Wil­liamson, the De­fence Sec­re­tary, for a de­lay.

Jeremy Cor­byn, the Labour leader, in­creased pres­sure on Mrs May, in­sist­ing his party would tear up the plans for a back­stop. He told Euronews: “There cer­tainly wouldn’t be a back­stop from which you can’t es­cape.” He also sug­gested a Labour gov­ern­ment could ex­tend Ar­ti­cle 50 to al­low for more ne­go­ti­at­ing time, de­lay­ing Brexit.

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