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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Jacob Rees-Mogg: Tory party will split if Theresa May uses Labour votes to deliver soft Brexit

3 min read

Theresa May will force the Conservatives to split if she uses Labour votes to force through her Brexit vision, Jacob Rees-Mogg has claimed.

The arch-Brexiteer said ignoring the concerns of his wing of the party would be "the most divisive thing" that she could do.

His comments came after Tory MPs rallied behind the Prime Minister following the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson from the Cabinet.

Both men said they could no longer support the Brexit agreement struck by Mrs May's top team at Chequers last Friday.

Under the terms of her plan, set to be fleshed out in a white paper later this week, the UK and EU would agree a "common rule book" on regulations, a move dubbed "quasi-Remain" by Mr Rees-Mogg.

PoliticsHome reported earlier how Tory Brexiteers were angry that Downing Street was briefing Labour, SNP and Lib Dem MPs about the details of its plan.

Speaking after a meeting of the Tory 1922 committee at which Mrs May spoke, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "There's one issue of grave concern and that is the Government has been briefing Labour members of Parliament.

"If the Government plans to get the Chequers deal through on the back of Labour party votes that would be the most divisive thing it could do and it would be a split coming from the top, not from the members of the Conservative Party across the country."

However, Tory chairman Brandon Lewis insisted the 1922 committee meeting had demonstrated the support which the Prime Minister still has.

He said: "There was a really, really strong reception for the Prime Minister. We want to show people around the country that we are really united party behind the Prime Minister delivering a positive Brexit for the United Kingdom."

One senior minister said the fear of a Labour government would save Mrs May, amid speculation that she could face a vote of no confidence in her leadership.

They said: "The argument that really cut through from lots of people was unless we pull together we end up with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister and nobody wants to see that. It was really powerful that the comments from the MPs who were here from before 97 saying how awful life was when the Conservative Party isn't united.

"There was a strong coming together of the party behind the Prime Minister. The mood of the party is to get behind the Prime Minister to deliver the best possible deal that we can."

But that unity was shattered within half an hour when Conservative MP Chris Green resigned as an aide to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

He said that under Mrs May's proposals "we would not really leave the EU".

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