THERESA May was hit by a major Cabinet revolt today when Remain ministers demanded talks with Labour moderates over a softer Brexit deal.
The Government heavyweights also told the PM to her face that she must now rule out a No Deal Brexit.
Amber Rudd leads the bid to woo Opposition MPs and has once again repeated her call for an ‘Indicative Vote’ in the Commons[/caption]
The Cabinet’s weekly meeting was dominated by crisis talks on what to do after Mrs May’s EU agreement was torpedoed by the Commons a few hours later.
She signalled she would push on and try to pass her deal a third time — no matter the size of Tuesday night’s crushing defeat — as it was “the only option”.
As sparks flew, Brexiteer Cabinet ministers hit back to insist Mrs May must not get into bed with Labour.
The charge for Labour talks was lead by Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, who repeated her long-standing call for an “Indicative Vote” in the Commons to work out what sort of Brexit a majority would back.
A Cabinet source told The Sun she was swiftly backed by Energy Minister Claire Perry, who insisted the only way any deal would now pass was with the help of “the sensible people in the Labour party”.
Business Secretary Greg Clark called for the PM to take No Deal off the table to reassure panicking firms. Justice Secretary David Gauke also joined the call, as well as Mrs May’s own de facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington.
Lords are plotting
REBEL Lords are ready to hijack the Trade Bill next week by demanding the UK stays in a Euro customs union.
The Sun can reveal a cross-party amendment has been tabled which would tie Theresa May’s hands in trade deal talks.
The putsch is being led by Labour’s Lord Stevenson, Tory peer Lord Patten and crossbencher Lord Kerr.
One source said: “This is the first concrete step of Parliament grabbing the Brexit policy away from Downing Street and setting the agenda.”
- By Steve Hawkes, Deputy Political Editor
But a raft of senior ministers argued against Labour talks and in favour of sticking with Mrs May’s deal if improvements can be won from the EU. They included Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom and Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.
They argued hardline Tory MP rebels will come round to Mrs May’s deal once they realise it is their only way of escaping a soft Brexit or a second referendum.
The most striking contribution came from Tory chairman Brandon Lewis, who declared of linking up with Labour MPs: “The party wouldn’t wear it.”
Another pro-deal Cabinet minister added: “A lot of us made the point to the Remainers that doing a deal with Labour meant one thing — and that is accepting a permanent customs union with the EU.
“We all stood on an Election manifesto not to have one, so that is unthinkable.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond stayed out of the fight, in a rare move. Instead, he said it was vital Mrs May does not resign and deepen the political vacuum.
A Cabinet source revealed: “He said the country needed her to steer us through. Lots of ministers came in behind him.”
Juncker predicts 'chaos'
JEAN-Claude Juncker has warned the risk of a chaotic Brexit has risen.
The EU Commission boss insisted the PM’s deal was “the only way to ensure an orderly withdrawal”.
He added: “I urge the UK to clarify its intentions as soon as possible. Time is almost up”.
Officials also indicated an emergency EU summit was off the table due to the size of the defeat.
Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth dubbed the result “a disaster”.
EU Council President Donald Tusk all but suggested Britain should now have a second referendum and stay in.
But Germany’s Foreign Minister said there could be new talks.
Heiko Maas hinted at revising parts of the deal — but ruled out “wholly new solutions.”
- By Nick Gutteridge
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Downing Street formally slapped down the Remain Cabinet ministers’ demands Tuesday night.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “We have no plans to hold indicative votes”. And on talks with Labour, he added: “Her focus is on talks with Tory MPs”.
Mrs May insisted on keeping No Deal on the table, telling The Commons just before the vote: “It is categorically wrong to suggest this country could not ultimately make a success of No Deal”.
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