MAY: BACK ME OR GET CORBYN AND NO BREXIT
EXCLUSIVE: PM’s wake-up call to Tory rebels
THERESA MAY today warns her warring party that if they vote down her Brexit deal they risk handing the country to Jeremy Corbyn – and being stuck permanently in the EU.
The Prime Minister uses a powerful interview in today’s Mail on Sunday to plead directly with the dozens of Tory MPs who have threatened to rebel in Tuesday’s historic Commons vote on her Brexit deal.
Mrs May, who says she has received
thousands of messages of personal support from voters, tries to avert the rebellion by ‘weaponising’ the prospect of Mr Corbyn in No10.
Such is the scale of the expected revolt – more than 100 Tories, by some estimates – that a growing number of senior Government figures are urging Mrs May to delay the vote and embark on a final bid to secure last-ditch concessions from Brussels this week.
A defeat of that magnitude would leave her facing a putsch by either a Commons vote of no confidence or from within her own party if she did not resign.
Mrs May tells this newspaper that Britain ‘would truly be in uncharted waters’ if the deal is voted down.
She says: ‘It would mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit. We have a leader of the Opposition who thinks of nothing but attempting to bring about a General Election, no matter what the cost to the country… I believe Jeremy Corbyn getting his hands on power is a risk we cannot afford to take.’
She tells her MPs: ‘If you want Brexit, make sure you get it, and that’s about this deal.’
But last night Mrs May suffered a blow when an aide to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson resigned. Parliamentary Private Secretary Will Quince, a Brexiteer, handed in his notice saying he was unable to vote for Mrs May’s deal.
Ahead of one of the most momentous weeks in post-war British politics:
Mrs May was considering making an emergency dash to Brussels to secure new legally binding assurances over the controversial backstop – as the EU hatched secret plans to delay Brexit by six weeks;
Tory Brexit ringleader Jacob Rees-Mogg backed a Brexit/ Remain ‘unity’ ticket of Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd if Mrs May falls;
MPs claimed that Home Secretary Sajid Javid was openly canvassing support for a leadership bid, while former Brexit Secretaries David Davis and Dominic Raab were ‘jostling for position with each other’;
Leaked polling from Tory HQ revealed that 57 per cent of Conservative voters think MPs should vote for the deal, with just 27 per cent saying they should vote against;
It was claimed that, if Mrs May was forced out after the vote on Tuesday, then the Commons would have to sit at Christmas for the first time since the 17th Century Cromwellian interregnum;
Labour MPs piled pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to honour party policy on a second referendum;
Nigel Farage is poised to launch a new Leave party to exploit Conservative divisions.
Although there is a growing belief in Westminster that Mrs May could be forced to delay the vote, she last night insisted her Cabinet was united behind her. ‘I think we all recognise that this is a good deal,’ she said.
However, Mrs May was also ‘wargaming’ a plan to cancel the vote and make a dash to Brussels to seek further concessions from the EU. The Mail on Sunday understands the EU is prepared to offer a six-week extension to the twoyear Article 50 exit process.
But senior Eurocrats have warned No10 there is ‘zero chance’ of reopening the text of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Downing Street is instead focusing on seeking additional legally binding protocols to water down the hated Northern Irish backstop. Tory MPs have revolted over the fact that the deal risks keeping Britain locked into EU rules indefinitely due to the backstop, designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
But internal polling from Tory HQ obtained by this newspaper found Conservative voters in Tory-held seats want their MPs to vote for the deal by a majority of more than two to one – suggesting MPs who voted against the deal could be punished at the ballot box at the next Election.
If Mrs May loses an immediate no-confidence vote on Tuesday, Parliament could have to sit on Christmas Day because the Fixed Term Parliament Act sets a deadline of 14 calendar days for a new Government to be formed, meaning December 25 would be the last chance for any coalition to try to win a Commons majority. It’s believed that the last time the Commons sat on Christmas Day was in 1656.
Labour MPs are privately urging Jeremy Corbyn to table a no-confidence motion against Mrs May if she loses the vote on her deal in the hope that it leads to a second referendum.
Asked whether Labour would push for a no-confidence vote, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We’ll judge when we see what happens on Tuesday.’
Mr Rees-Mogg said dodging a vote on her Brexit deal would be as damaging to Mrs May as losing it. He said: ‘The humiliation of avoiding a vote is as much a reason for her departure as defeat. It is her policy which has failed and for which she is accountable. And it would be much better if she left of her own accord rather than face a no-confidence motion.’
Mrs May’s allies argue that, if the deal crashes, it will not only lead to the end of her leadership but the suspension of Article 50, the triggering of an Election likely to lead to a Labour-SNP coalition Government, then a second referendum to try to reverse Brexit.
Mrs May, who refuses to say whether she will resign if she loses the vote on her Brexit deal, rules out a second referendum while she is leader, telling this newspaper: ‘We had a people’s vote. Let’s deliver on the first people’s vote.’