politico: Three Remain-supporting ministers today threatened to quit the Conservative Party if Theresa May doesn’t rule out a no-deal Brexit, with others reportedly ready to join them.
“We will have no choice other than to join MPs of all parties and fellow ministers in acting in the national interest to prevent a disaster in less than five weeks that we may regret forever,” Climate Change Minister Claire Perry, Business Minister Richard Harrington and Digital Minister Margot James said in an op-ed in the Daily Mail.
According to the paper, 23 Remain-backing ministers secretly met in the Commons Monday to discuss the strategy, and up to 15 indicated they would quit to vote against no-deal if necessary.
Earlier Monday, the Evening Standard reported the prime minister is today expected to confront her Cabinet and then the House of Commons with a proposal to grant MPs the chance to delay Brexit if she cannot win a “meaningful vote” by mid-March.
According to reports, under May’s plan, MPs would be given a meaningful vote on a revised Brexit deal with the EU by March 12, and if the Commons rejects it, the PM would allow them to vote on whether to press ahead with a no-deal Brexit on March 29, or to opt for an extension to negotiations with the EU.
In a major shift in the Labour Party’s policy, meanwhile, leader Jeremy Corbyn announced Monday that the opposition party will back a second referendum on Brexit to avoid May’s deal or a no-deal exit from the EU.
A briefing note sent to Labour MPs Monday night confirmed Labour would seek to put Remain on the ballot in a second referendum.
“If we can’t get our deal through … then anything else would be a disastrous Tory Brexit and we would ask for the public to be able to have a vote on that,” Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told Channel 4 News Monday night. “We would have a referendum on whatever deal may or may not pass through parliament, and we would be saying to people ‘Do you want this? Or do you want to Remain?’ It would be a confirmation referendum, a bit like what happened with the Good Friday Agreement.” Asked if Labour would back Remain, Thornberry replied: “If it’s a choice between a disastrous Tory Brexit, or no-deal, and Remaining, then that is what we will have to do.”
The Independent Group of MPs claimed the shift in position by both May and Corbyn as their victory. Former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston tweeted: “Good news that on both sides of the Commons, the setting up of #TIG has triggered a response as parties try to prevent more MPs joining us.” One Corbyn ally told POLITICO’s London Playbook that “jitters” over the prospect of further defections may have played a part in the Labour shift.
The Times reported late Monday that support for the Independent Group has surged, with a new YouGov poll putting it on 18 percent, just 5 points behind Labour on 23.