REPORT: May to Rule out WTO Brexit to Stop Mass Tory Remainer Resignations

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 25: British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her final press conference at the end of the Arab-European Summit on February 25, 2019 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Leaders from European and Arab nations are meeting for the two-day summit to discuss topics including security, …
Dan Kitwood/Getty

Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly set to rule out a clean, no-deal exit from the EU to stop mass resignations from remainer ministers.

The Daily Mail revealed that 23 Tory Cabinet ministers met in the House of Commons on Monday to discuss stopping the UK leaving the on March 29th in a clean break, with 15 ministers said to be prepared to resign if Mrs May does not take no-deal Brexit off the table.

Energy minister Claire Perry, digital minister Margot James, and industry minister Richard Harrington also wrote a joint piece in the tabloid threatening that they will resign unless the prime minister promises to allow Parliament to vote to delay Brexit if her deal is rejected again in the Commons on March 12th.

The Cabinet is meeting Tuesday morning and media reports ministers are set to discuss proposals including a ‘short-term’ extension of Article 50. While Mrs May reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that she would not be delaying Brexit, The Sun speculates Tuesday that the prime minister will rule out ‘no deal’ during the meeting.

The reports come after Labour announced Monday that the party would back a second referendum to stop a no-deal Brexit if May loses her vote on March 12th. Sir Keir Starmer, the party’s shadow Brexit secretary, told Sky News on Tuesday that the party would back putting Remain on the ballot, but not leaving without a deal.

Mrs May is set to face a challenge in the House of Commons on Wednesday over a backbench, cross-party Remainer bill put forward by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tories Nick Boles and Sir Oliver Letwin which would give MPs the power to take control of Government and allow them to initiate their own vote to extend Article 50 if the prime minister’s deal is voted down.

With up to 25 backbench Tory MPs threatening to back the Cooper-Letwin bill, the alleged 15 ministers, and opposition support, there could be enough Remainers to defeat May’s Government and delay and eventually stop Brexit.

One of those present at the ministers’ meeting Monday told The Telegraph, ‘What happens on Wednesday depends on how clear she is in the Commons on Tuesday. If she attempts to fudge it she’s dead.”

Three senior Tory ministers who could resign and vote with the rebels include work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd, justice secretary David Gauke, and business secretary Greg Clark, who all said over the weekend that they oppose a World Trade Organization (WTO) Brexit.

A source close to the three ministers told The Times that they had seen Prime Minister May’s draft remarks on the next steps and said that they were “very hopeful” she would give the Remainers the assurances that they demand to stop them voting in favour of the Cooper-Letwin bill.

Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG), chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, opposes Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement on grounds of the £39 billion divorce bill, the near two-year transition period, and the Irish backstop, which could lock Northern Ireland into regulatory alignment with the EU.

While the prime minister is allegedly set to make concessions to Tory Remainers, sources have told The Sun she will “confront” the ERG over its support for a clean Brexit, the source saying, “I believe that will happen now. Everything I’ve heard from her in the last week suggests she is ready, and she will take no deal on March 29 off the table. That is what we have to hear from her, nothing less.”

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.