Tory splits erupt as Jacob Rees-Mogg sparks backlash over Brexit threat to Theresa May
Senior Conservatives have hit back at Jacob Rees-Mogg after he warned Theresa May she faced a rebellion if she failed to deliver on her Brexit promises.
The outspoken Brexiteer - chair of the pro-Leave European Research Group - said a host of Conservatives would vote against the final withdrawal agreement if the UK does not make a clean break from the EU, in a move which could bring down the Government.
But Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan led a Tory backlash against the North East Somerset MP, who he said should "pipe down" and stop "threatening" the Prime Minister.
Mr Duncan's Foreign Office colleague Alistair Burt also took aim at Mr Rees-Mogg, accusing him of putting his "ideological clique" before the interests of the country.
Mr Rees-Mogg was also accused of “blackmail” by Tory MP Simon Hoare, who said the party was one of “common sense pragmatists” rather than “dogmatic vestal virgins”.
Fellow backbencher Vicky Ford said the idea of leaving the EU without a deal was “not acceptable” and called on colleagues to be a “practical” rather than “ideological”.
She told the BBC’s Today programme: “What I will say to Jacob and others who want a very clear answer is if this becomes a binary choice between stay in the single market, stay in the customs union or no deal, then I do not believe there is a majority for no deal and therefore the bespoke, specific solutions that find a practical way that works for business, that works for our trade, that keeps market access and a partnership with Europe - that solution which the Prime Minister has outlined many times is a solution that we should support her to deliver."
And Tory grandee Nicholas Soames called on Mr Rees-Mogg to "shut up" and let Mrs Pay get on with her job.
The latest Tory Brexit row comes as Mrs May prepares for a crunch Cabinet meeting at Chequers on Friday, at which she hopes to finally sign-off her government's agreed approach on leaving the EU.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "The Prime Minister must stick to her righteous cause and deliver what she has said she would, she must use her undoubted grace to persevere."
He added: "Any attempt by the EU to impose its laws and court on the UK, either directly or indirectly, must be rejected.
“Any EU agreement that restricts the country's ability to make trade agreements with other states, restricts our ability to control our migration policy makes us pay to trade or interferes with our fishing waters could not be accepted.
“Indeed MPs would vote against such propositions in Parliament."