UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly set to resist mounting pressure from pro-Remain Tory ministers, and order her cabinet to vote down amendments that would block a no-deal Brexit – risking possible resignations.
Parliament will vote on May’s alternative Brexit proposals on Tuesday, as well as a series of amendments that include delaying the UK’s departure from the EU by negotiating an extension to Article 50. The UK is set to leave the EU on March 29.
The prime minister will risk splitting her cabinet – ignoring pleas over taking no-deal off the table – and instead pursue a strategy of securing changes to the contentious Irish backstop, in a bid to win over hardline Tory Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Daily Mail reports.
May will be hoping that such a move will provide her with enough MPs to get her deal through the House of Commons at a second attempt. The PM’s original Brexit proposals were roundly rejected last week, with the government losing by 230 votes.
UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has warned May that she faces a spate of cabinet resignations if she fails to allow ministers to vote on a plan that could block a no-deal Brexit.
According to the Times, pro-EU Rudd has intimated that unless May allows a free vote on a Brexit amendment, tabled by backbench Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which calls for Article 50 to be extended if no deal is reached by February 26, then mass resignations could follow.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has praised Cooper’s “sensible proposal,” claiming that it’s “increasingly likely” that his party will vote for it next week.
Cooper’s is one of eight amendments tabled in recent days. Another, put forward by Tory MP and ‘people’s vote’ advocate, Dominic Grieve, would allow Parliament to set the agenda and vote on a variety of proposals, including a second EU referendum.
It comes as Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, claimed in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, that delaying Brexit would be “calamitous,” and much worse than no-deal.
Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, has claimed that Brussels will only extend Article 50 if there is a “stable majority” in the UK for a deal – adding that the UK could avoid the problems of the Irish backstop by opting for a softer Brexit.