British Prime Minister Theresa May would be thwarted by at least 50 of her own MPs if she tried to carry out her threat to pursue a “no-deal” exit if the negotiations fail, The Independent has been told.
A “humble address” – the tactic employed successfully by Labour to force the government to release the notorious 58 Brexit economic assessments – would be used, it was suggested.
“There are at least 50 Conservative MPs who would be prepared to vote to stop it happening, which would be more than enough to force the government to take notice,” an ex-Cabinet minister vowed.
According to The Independent, the warning comes amid growing concern that May continues to insist that leaving without any agreement remains an option – despite her own civil servants warning of food and medicine shortages and huge tailbacks at the UK’s borders.
She faced down a dangerous Tory revolt aimed at securing a “meaningful vote” that would block no deal to enforce her mantra that “Parliament cannot tie the hands of government in negotiations”.
Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, piled on the pressure, insisting no deal remained on the table, telling Sky News: “We’ve got to be free in the negotiation to say if we don’t get the deal we want, there won’t be any agreement.”
Meanwhile, a letter from 60 politicians and business figures, including former chancellor Nigel Lawson, vocal Brexiteer John Redwood, and Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin, rammed home the same message.
It urged the government to accelerate plans to operate under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
In a separate report, The Financial Times noted that EU leaders last week called on member states and companies to step up contingency preparations for a no-deal Brexit after concerns that the UK had made “no substantial progress” on the Irish border.
The prospect of a no-deal scenario has sent shudders through the business world: Airbus, the aerospace giant, warned on Thursday that the company could quit the UK unless the government made the right decisions on Brexit.