Michael Gove 'leading Cabinet fight' to change Theresa May’s Brexit plan

Posted On: 
17th November 2018

Michael Gove and four other Cabinet ministers will try to force Theresa May to change her plan for Brexit in exchange for their loyalty, according to reports.

Mr Gove - who turned down the Brexit Secretary job - is said to be leading at the head of the 'gang of five' revolt
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PA Images

The "gang of five” is said to consist of Eurosceptics Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and Liam Fox.

According to the Telegraph, the ministers have “made it clear” they would not hesitate in following Dominic Raab and Esther McVey in quitting if their demands are not met. 

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It is understood the group want Britain to have the option of pulling out of the Irish border “backstop” agreement unilaterally, rather than with the EU’s consent as it currently stands. 

The five ministers, who have all attended Ms Leadsom’s “pizza nights” to thrash out strategy in the past – as well the likes of Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt – believe their changes could help Mrs May avoid a no confidence vote from her MPs.

But key EU figures have made it clear that they are unlikely to allow changes to the draft agreement, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying there was "no question at the moment whether we negotiate further".

The Prime Minister last night appointed junior health minister Stephen Barclay as her new Brexit Secretary, while bringing ex-Home Secretary Amber Rudd back into the fold to replace McVey at the Department for Work and Pensions. 

Ms Rudd appealed for calm within the Tory party, telling the BBC: “This is not a time for changing our leader.

"This is a time for pulling together, for making sure we remember who we are here to serve, who we are here to help: that's the whole of the country.

"I worry sometimes colleagues are too concerned about the Westminster bubble rather than keeping their eye on what our job is - to serve people."

In a bid to shore up her support, Mrs May has also appointed a prominent Remain-backing rebel, Stephen Hammond, to the Health and Social Care job vacated by Mr Barclay.

Kwasi Kwarteng, a Leave-supporter, will meanwhile step into the shoes of Suella Braverman as a minister at the the Brexit department, while former culture minister John Penrose takes on the Northern Ireland Office job left vacant by the resignation of Shailesh Vara.