Remainer Ministers in New Bid to Stop No-Deal Brexit, Force Longer Delay

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Protesters from the remain camp demonstrate on College Green on March 12, 2019 in London, England. MPs will begin voting on Theresa May's Brexit deal this evening at 7pm. The Prime Minister has consistently said hers is the only deal that Brussels will entertain and …
Georgia O'Callaghan/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Remainer Tory ministers are threatening to resign over a vote that could force the UK into a long Brexit delay and possibly into a second referendum.

Eight europhile Tory ministers are said to have met with the party’s Chief Whip Julian Smith on Thursday to demand a free vote next week on a backbench amendment which would force a longer Brexit delay if the House of Commons rejects the Withdrawal Agreement for a third time, according to sources speaking to The Telegraph.

If passed, the amendment could hand power from the government to the Remainer-dominated Parliament which could stop a no deal exit.

Late last night, European and Brussels leaders rejected May’s request for a three-month extension to Article 50, instead giving her three weeks to April 12th to pass her Withdrawal Agreement and then if passed, a further extension will be granted to May 22nd to pass legislation to implement it.

If it is not passed and no deal is ruled out, Brussels could force the UK to agree a much longer extension including participation in European Parliament elections in May. It has also been suggested that the UK could be told to hold a general election or another referendum on EU membership.

If May surrenders to Remainers again, it will be the latest concession to the europhile faction of the party.

In February, the prime minister caved to threats of Cabinet resignations by allowing votes on both ruling out no deal and requesting an extension to Article 50 — despite Mrs May saying 108 times in Parliament that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th either with a deal or the legal default of no deal.

The fragility of May’s premiership is being highlighted not only by Remainers in Cabinet but by backbench leavers, with speculation in the party that her premiership will be over by next week.

The Telegraph revealed on Thursday night that chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady told the prime minister that MPs want her to quit, the chairman allegedly being bombarded with text messages from lawmakers over Mrs May’s performance.

Nigel Evans, executive secretary of the 1922 committee who also backs May’s deal, is said to have told the Prime Minister, “It’s not that people don’t believe what you say, it’s that people don’t believe you can deliver.”

While another told her, “If it goes to the next stage, there is a feeling that you shouldn’t be part of it.”

The House of Commons Speaker John Bercow is yet to decide if he will overturn his earlier ruling and allow a third vote of the controversial Withdrawal Agreement, which was voted down by 230 in January and 149 in March.

Tory parliamentarians were outraged after Mrs May blamed the Brexit chaos not on herself or her deal but on MPs in a speech Wednesday night, isolating the lawmakers she desperately needs to back her Withdrawal Agreement.

One Cabinet minister told The Telegraph, “Her deal is a compromise that everyone feels uncomfortable with and no-one likes. We will lose the meaningful vote, probably by an even bigger margin.”

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