Tory rebels of­fered an olive branch

John­son al­lows MPS to ap­peal against with­drawal of the whip in hint that bat­tle is loom­ing over a Brexit deal

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Anna Mikhailova and Gor­don Rayner

BORIS JOHN­SON last night of­fered Tory rebels a way back into the party amid a grow­ing split among Con­ser­va­tives over his de­ci­sion to kick them out.

The Prime Min­is­ter in­structed the Chief Whip to write to all MPS set­ting out the appeals process to re­store the whip, which was de­scribed as a “ray of light” for the rebels by a se­nior party source. It comes amid grow­ing signs Mr John­son could be about to bro­ker a Brexit deal over North­ern Ire­land for which he would need the maximum pos­si­ble num­ber of Tory MPS to get it through the Commons.

Matt Han­cock, the Health Sec­re­tary, Michael Gove, the Chan­cel­lor of the Duchy of Lan­caster, and Sa­jid Javid, the Chan­cel­lor, have all urged the Prime Min­is­ter to of­fer an “olive branch” to some of the rebels.

The Daily Tele­graph also un­der­stands Jacob Rees-mogg, the Leader of the House, and Robert Buck­land, the Jus­tice Sec­re­tary, have spo­ken in sup­port of let­ting some of the MPS back into the party, pro­vid­ing they agree that the Govern­ment must be al­lowed to do its busi­ness.

A source close to Mr Buck­land said: “While the de­ci­sion to re­move the whip is un­der­stand­able, there must be a way back.”

How­ever, Mr John­son was warned that any de­ci­sion to re­in­state the rebels could en­rage Brex­i­teers, caus­ing yet more prob­lems with party dis­ci­pline.

In a sign that he will now try for a compromise Brexit deal, the Prime Min­is­ter has told Tory rebels he is ready for “spears in my back” from hard­line Brex­i­teers and the DUP.

It came as a Scot­tish court ruled that Mr John­son’s de­ci­sion to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment was un­law­ful, mean­ing the Prime Min­is­ter faces hav­ing to re­call MPS if the de­ci­sion is up­held by the Supreme Court next week. Mr John­son would then need the sup­port of as many MPS as pos­si­ble to fight fresh at­tempts to thwart his Brexit plans.

Yes­ter­day, Down­ing Street pub­lished its “worst-case sce­nario” plan for a no-deal Brexit, code-named Op­er­a­tion Yel­lowham­mer, which pre­dicts short­ages of med­i­cal supplies, huge de­lays at the Chan­nel cross­ings, dis­rupted fuel and food supplies and a rise in pub­lic dis­or­der. How­ever, the doc­u­ment, which was re­leased fol­low­ing a vote in Par­lia­ment de­mand­ing its pub­li­ca­tion, is al­most six weeks out of date, mean­ing it does not take into ac­count ramped-up no-deal plan­ning in that time.

As No10 wres­tles with the Tory rebels, at least three dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the Chief Whip’s let­ter have been sent out, some more wel­com­ing than oth­ers, The Tele­graph un­der­stands, sug­gest­ing some MPS have a bet­ter chance of re­turn­ing to the fold than oth­ers.

A govern­ment source said: “It’s not like they’re all one bloc. Some are fully off the reser­va­tion, while some want to have some path back – maybe by vot­ing for the Govern­ment in the Queen’s Speech, or vot­ing for a new deal.”

Steve Brine, Stephen Ham­mond, Anne Mil­ton and Richard Benyon are among the rebel MPS whom Cab­i­net min­is­ters are keen to see re­in­stated.

Philip Ham­mond, the for­mer chan­cel­lor, has re­sponded to the let­ter by ask­ing for clarificat­ion on the rea­sons for his ex­pul­sion.

A spokesman for Mr Ham­mond said: “The let­ter reads like an olive branch of sorts. If that is the tone that No 10 is tak­ing, that is a wel­come one.” Mr Benyon said he had replied to the Chief Whip, ex­press­ing a de­sire to re­turn to the party.

He said: “I’m hop­ing to have the whip re­stored but I will still stand down at the next election.

“The Prime Min­is­ter has re­belled a great many times, the Leader of the House more than 100 times and the Chief Whip many times, so the way we have been treated is ex­traor­di­nary.

“We have been in­vited to ap­ply to an appeals process and that is what I have done and I think most of the oth­ers will do, but I don’t think any of those who have said they will not stand again have changed their minds on that.”

Lord Flight, the for­mer MP, urged Mr John­son to consider a “for­give­ness deal” for the 21 MPS. He wrote to The

Tele­graph to say: “It is im­por­tant for the Govern­ment not to be per­ceived as acting dis­pro­por­tion­ately.”

One of the rebels, who does not plan to ap­peal, said: “There are some peo­ple they’d like to get back – and oth­ers they do not want”. An­other MP said the tone of their let­ter was “school­mas­ter­ish” and said that re­ceiv­ing the Con­ser­va­tive party whip is a “priv­i­lege”.

Daniel Kawczyn­ski, the Brex­i­teer Tory MP, said read­mit­ting the MPS could en­dan­ger any deal Mr John­son brings back from Brus­sels.

“Party dis­ci­pline is go­ing to suf­fer very badly if peo­ple are al­lowed to vote against the Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment in a mo­tion of con­fi­dence,” he said.

“I have said to the Chief Whip – if he backs down on this now, then it is set­ting up a green light for fu­ture MPS to trash this very im­por­tant rule we have.”

A Con­ser­va­tive Party source de­scribed the appeals process as a “ray of light” for the rebels but added: “It’s a long way back for them.”

The MPS have been told to in­form Sir Gra­ham Brady of their in­ten­tion to ap­peal, and an ap­peal panel will in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the 1922 Com­mit­tee, the Na­tional Con­ser­va­tive Con­ven­tion and the whips’ of­fice.

The letters come as the Op­er­a­tion Yel­lowham­mer doc­u­ment, which was leaked to a Sun­day news­pa­per last month, pre­dicts up to 85 per cent of lor­ries “may not be ready for French cus­toms”, mean­ing driv­ers be­ing de­layed in Kent for two and a half days.

It pre­dicts that “the worst dis­rup­tion might last for up to three months” be­fore it im­proves, and only then to be­tween 50 and 70 per cent of the nor­mal speed of cross­ings.

Such de­lays would, “un­mit­i­gated, have an im­pact on the sup­ply of medicines and med­i­cal supplies”.

It also pre­dicts “sig­nif­i­cant elec­tric­ity price in­creases for con­sumers” and a risk that panic-buy­ing could lead to food short­ages. Short­ages of chem­i­cals used in the pu­rifi­ca­tion process could also af­fect clean wa­ter supplies.

The re­sult could be “a rise in pub­lic dis­or­der and com­mu­nity ten­sions”.

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