Brexit: Tory MPs threaten mass walk-out if No 10 forces party to back no-deal at general election

The Independent Politics 1 month ago

Moderate Tories have threatened Boris Johnson with a mass walk-out if No 10 tries to make the party back a no-deal Brexit explicitly at a snap general election.

The suggestion, made by a No 10 aide – widely believed to be Dominic Cummings – triggered a backlash from members of the ‘One Nation’ caucus, who demanded a meeting with the prime minister.

One MP told The Independent the idea was “mad”, adding: “It would be impossible for me to recommend that as the best option for my constituents.”

After the meeting, Damian Green, the chairman of the One Nation group, said Mr Johnson had been told that such a stance would be “unacceptable”.

The former deputy prime minister insisted the group had been “reassured”, telling The Independent: “He told us that is not what he is about and that he would continue to try to get a deal.”

The Supreme Court has ruled against Boris Johnson by declaring his government unlawfully shut down parliament for five weeks
Lady Hale handed down the historic verdict, hailed by opposition MPs and anti-Brexit campaigners. She said all 11 judges were unanimous in deciding that the case is “justiciable”, so the government loses that part of the argument. “The court is bound to conclude therefore that the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions.”
Gina Miller and her team react outside the Supreme Court are the verdict. She said: “Today is not a win for any individual or cause. It is a win for Parliamentary sovereignty, the separation of powers and independence of our British courts. Crucially, today’s ruling confirms that we are a nation governed by the rule of law, laws that everyone, even the Prime Minister, are subject to."
A person dressed as a caricature of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Mr Johnson to “consider his position” following the landmark decision, while Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson said he was “not fit to be prime minister”
Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Ian Blackford raises his arms as he comes outside. He said: "This is an absolutely stunning judgement by the Supreme Court today." He went on to say, "we all want to get back to work, and quite frankly, on the back of this, Boris Johnson must resign immediately."
Crowds outside celebrated the verdict
Delegates at the Labour party conference applaud after hearing the news
Speaker John Bercow said MPs must now “convene without delay” and confirmed the Commons would return at 11.30am on Wednesday
Gina Miller said: "“As a result of this judgment, Parliament is open, it was never prorogued. I urge MPs to get back to work immediately.”
MPs Anna Soubry, Liz Saville Roberts and Caroline Lucas, together with SNP leader Ian Blackford, react. Green MP Caroline Lucas has said the Supreme Court’s decision is “just the start”
“The UK deserves a Prime Minister and a Government who act with honesty, integrity and in a manner consistent with our constitution, at all times."
The SNP’s Joanna Cherry QC says: “Boris Johnson’s position is untenable and he should have the guts to resign.”
Tom Tugendhat MP returned to the chamber in the House of Commons within minutes of the Supreme Court ruling

Mr Green declined to put a figure on the number of Conservative MPs who would agree to stand on a no-deal manifesto, but agreed it could be “several dozen”.

The former Remain supporter also declined to say whether he would be a Conservative candidate if the prime minister forced through a no-deal manifesto.

The fears were sparked by the Downing Street source saying, in a memo earlier this week: “If this deal dies in the next few days, then it won’t be revived. 

“To marginalise the Brexit party, we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘no more delays, get Brexit done immediately’.”

The aide, named by Amber Rudd as Mr Cummings, added: “We’ll either leave with no deal on 31 October or there will be an election and then we will leave with no-deal.”

Mr Green said: “We gave the prime minister the message that we would find making a no-deal Brexit the purpose of government policy, in our manifesto, unacceptable.

“He said he doesn’t want that to be our policy and, given he decides what it says in our manifesto, we were reassured.”

However, no final decision has been taken, even with the likelihood of a winter election – if, as seems likely, Brexit is delayed beyond 31 October – growing by the day.

Furthermore, sceptics will point to Mr Johnson previously telling the One Nation group he was “not attracted to arcane procedures such as the prorogation of parliament” – shortly before shutting it down, illegally, for five weeks.

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