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Former minister says he could vote to bring down government if Theresa May backs no-deal Brexit

2 min read

A former Tory minister has said he will resign the party whip and could help to bring down the Government if Theresa May backs a no-deal Brexit.

In surprising comments, Nick Boles said he would "vote in any way necessary to stop it from happening".

Mr Boles, who was a Conservative frontbencher when David Cameron was Prime Minister, spoke out after the Cabinet agreed to ramp up the Government's planning for leaving the EU without a deal.

The Treasury is making a further £2bn available to bankroll the move, while around 3,500 Army personnel are also being put on standby.

Mr Boles, who has called for a temporary Norway-style arrangement with the EU as an alternative to Mrs May's own deal, tweeted: "The Cabinet spent this morning discussing preparations for ‘no deal’ Brexit. I accept that it is prudent for the government to get ready for all eventualities. But I owe my constituents and my colleagues total clarity about my position.

"If at any point between now and 29 March the government were to announce that ‘no deal’ Brexit had become its policy, I would immediately resign the Conservative whip and vote in any way necessary to stop it from happening."

His comments appeared to be a reference to Labour's threat to table a motion of no confidence in the Government is the Prime Minister's deal is rejected by the Commons next month.

If it were passed, Mrs May would be forced from office and the Conservatives would have two weeks to come up with an alternative administration or face a general election.

Mr Boles is the first Tory to break ranks and suggest he could vote with Labour against his own party. Only seven Conservatives would be needed for the Government to fall, assuming Mrs May was backed by her DUP partners.

Labour has said it will not table a no-confidence motion until it is sure it would be passed by the Commons, with Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey today confirming that will not be until after the vote on the Brexit deal in January.

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