Amber Rudd warns Tories to back next Prime Minister or risk ‘Corbyn by Christmas’
Amber Rudd has warned senior colleagues such as Philip Hammond that they must row behind the next Prime Minister or risk ushering in a Labour government.
The Work and Pensions Secretary's intervention came after the Chancellor warned frontrunner Boris Johnson that he would do “everything in my power” to halt a no-deal Brexit – including leaving open the possibility of voting to bring down his government.
His comments came in the wake of Mr Johnson's repeated refusal to rule out suspending Parliament in a bid to bypass MPs and take the UK out of the bloc "do or die" on 31 October - a stance which has also prompted Justice Secretary David Gauke to announce that he will quit.
Ms Rudd, who has backed Jeremy Hintn's leadership bid and previously criticised Mr Johnson’s Brexit approach, said the Tories must come together or risk Jeremy Corbyn being in Number 10 by the end of the year.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she said: “Just as the Conservative Party came together after that EU referendum, it must now come together again no matter who wins.
“I know many of my colleagues have strong feelings but a new prime minister will get a new hearing in the European Union and I hope everyone can unite behind that.
“If we don’t, the alternative could be Corbyn for Christmas.”
The result of the party’s leadership race is expected on Tuesday, with Mrs May’s successor due to take over later in the week.
It comes as European politicians and officials have reportedly held secret meetings with Mr Johnson’s team in a bid to avoid Britain crashing out without an agreement on 31 October.
The Sunday Times said figures from Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands had made contact with the frontrunner’s team in recent days.
The paper also included an article from Ireland’s deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, in which he warns Mr Johnson that leaving without a deal “would cause huge damage to us all”.
“A no-deal Brexit will devastate the Northern Irish economy,” he said.
He adds: “The goal on our side remains a future relationship between the EU and the UK that makes the backstop unnecessary.”