PM could see mass walkout as three senior ministers signal they’re ready to help delay Brexit

Theresa May is facing the prospect of a Cabinet walkout after three senior ministers signalled they are ready to help force a delay to Brexit to stop a ‘disastrous’ No Deal.

Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark today make clear they are prepared to defy the Prime Minister unless there is a Parliamentary breakthrough on her deal next week.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the trio publicly serve notice that if hardline Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group scupper a deal they will back other MPs to try to force Mrs May to extend Article 50 and delay Britain’s exit from the EU.

Amber Rudd (pictured), David Gauke and Greg Clark today make clear they are prepared to defy the Prime Minister unless there is a Parliamentary breakthrough on her deal next week

Amber Rudd (pictured), David Gauke and Greg Clark today make clear they are prepared to defy the Prime Minister unless there is a Parliamentary breakthrough on her deal next week

Amber Rudd (pictured), David Gauke and Greg Clark today make clear they are prepared to defy the Prime Minister unless there is a Parliamentary breakthrough on her deal next week

But the trio (Greg Clark is pictured) make it clear they will not shrink from flouting her authority if her deal is blocked again next week – adding that this will mean there is no time to stop a ‘disastrous No Deal’ exit

But the trio (Greg Clark is pictured) make it clear they will not shrink from flouting her authority if her deal is blocked again next week – adding that this will mean there is no time to stop a ‘disastrous No Deal’ exit

In their joint article, the Cabinet ministers (David Gauke is pictured) warn a No Deal departure would wreck the economy, put the defence of the realm in jeopardy and risk the break-up of the UK

In their joint article, the Cabinet ministers (David Gauke is pictured) warn a No Deal departure would wreck the economy, put the defence of the realm in jeopardy and risk the break-up of the UK

But the trio (Greg Clark is pictured left and David Gauke is right) make it clear they will not shrink from flouting her authority if her deal is blocked again next week – adding that this will mean there is no time to stop a ‘disastrous No Deal’ exit

In their joint article, the Cabinet ministers warn a No Deal departure would wreck the economy, put the defence of the realm in jeopardy and risk the break-up of the UK. They say it remains their hope that Parliament agrees a deal ‘in the next few days’.

But they add: ‘If there is no breakthrough in the coming week, the balance of opinion in Parliament is clear – that it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29.

‘It is time that many of our Conservative parliamentary colleagues in the ERG recognised that Parliament will stop a disastrous No Deal Brexit on March 29. If that happens, they will have no one to blame but themselves for delaying Brexit.’

The move comes at the end of an extraordinary week which saw three Tory Remainer MPs quit the party to join eight ex-Labour MPs in a breakaway Independent Group.

Unless Parliament votes through a Brexit deal before Wednesday, MPs are likely to be asked to vote this week on a motion that would effectively take No Deal off the table and force the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit delay.

Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen held a press conference (pictured from left) to explain their historic defection out of the Tories and into the new Independent Group today 

Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen held a press conference (pictured from left) to explain their historic defection out of the Tories and into the new Independent Group today 

Sarah Wollaston, Anna Soubry and Heidi Allen held a press conference (pictured from left) to explain their historic defection out of the Tories and into the new Independent Group today 

Change of scenery: Independent MPs (front L-R) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry pose with former Labour Party members of The Independent Group of MPs, Joan Ryan (front row R), (middle row L-R) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey (top row L-R) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes

Change of scenery: Independent MPs (front L-R) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry pose with former Labour Party members of The Independent Group of MPs, Joan Ryan (front row R), (middle row L-R) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey (top row L-R) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes

Change of scenery: Independent MPs (front L-R) Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry pose with former Labour Party members of The Independent Group of MPs, Joan Ryan (front row R), (middle row L-R) Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey (top row L-R) Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Chuka Umunna and Mike Gapes

Mrs May believes this would destroy her leverage in Brussels. However, it is understood the Cabinet rebels have indicated privately that they are prepared to resign if necessary to carry out their threat.

They could be joined by up to 20 junior ministers and 100 Tory MPs who, with Labour support, would be certain to defeat Mrs May. On another dramatic day in Westminster:

  • A hardliner in the European Research Group (ERG) warned up to a dozen MPs would cause ‘carnage’ and ‘effectively end the Government’ if Brexit is delayed;
  • One report suggested Cabinet ministers believe Mrs May should step down after local elections in May to allow a new leader to conduct the next round of Brexit negotiations;
  • EU officials claimed British negotiators had given up on securing either a time limit or unilateral exit clause from the Withdrawal Agreement;
  • EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he was ‘more worried than before’ about the talks and said there was a ‘high risk’ of an accidental No Deal;
  • Labour’s crisis intensified as Jeremy Corbyn was told ‘others will follow’ after a ninth Labour MP, former minister Ian Austin, quit the party;

In their article for the Mail, Work and Pensions Secretary Miss Rudd, Justice Secretary Mr Gauke and Business Secretary Mr Clark are careful to praise Mrs May’s ‘extraordinary determination and resilience’.

But they make it clear they will not shrink from flouting her authority if her deal is blocked again next week – adding that this will mean there is no time to stop a ‘disastrous No Deal’ exit.

The ministers accuse MPs in Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hardline ERG of brushing aside the consequences of a No Deal exit.

The ministers accuse MPs in Boris Johnson (pictured) and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hardline ERG of brushing aside the consequences of a No Deal exit

The ministers accuse MPs in Boris Johnson (pictured) and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hardline ERG of brushing aside the consequences of a No Deal exit

The ministers deny they are issuing an ultimatum to Mrs May. ‘The ultimatum is to the ERG,’ said a source close to one (Jacob Rees-Mogg is chairman of the group)

The ministers deny they are issuing an ultimatum to Mrs May. ‘The ultimatum is to the ERG,’ said a source close to one (Jacob Rees-Mogg is chairman of the group)

The ministers accuse MPs in Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s hardline ERG of brushing aside the consequences of a No Deal exit

In addition to hitting jobs, trade and the economy, it would inflame historic border tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, they argue – and ultimately lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

The ministers deny they are issuing an ultimatum to Mrs May. ‘The ultimatum is to the ERG,’ said a source close to one. ‘If they don’t see sense and back the PM, Brexit won’t happen next month – on their heads be it. The aim is to make it easier for the PM to face down the ERG.’

Today’s intervention comes ahead of what is expected to be another critical week on Brexit. On Tuesday Mrs May will return from talks with the EU over the weekend to update MPs on progress.

If no agreement has been found over changes to the Northern Ireland back-stop, MPs will have another chance on Wednesday to propose and vote on amendments demanding Mrs May change course.

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