Top Cabinet ministers ‘urge Theresa May to delay Brexit vote’ or risk government collapse
Theresa May is reportedly being urged by members of her own Cabinet to shelve next week’s crunch Brexit vote or risk bringing down the Government.
The Times reports that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is amaong those trying to convince the Prime Minister to put off the Commons showdown on her Brexit deal in the face of opposition across Parliament.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns are also said to have urged the Prime Minister to call off Tuesday's vote if it looks like she is facing a defeat of more than 70.
Conservative whips are currently battling to convince MPs to get behind the deal after scores of Tories publicly denounced it and the DUP, who Mrs May relies on for a Commons majority, vowed to vote against it.
With the prospect of a hefty Commons defeat looming, one Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail: "There are ways this can be fixed and people have started looking at them.
"We need to be creative and we need to get the DUP back on board. It can be done, but it can't be done before next Tuesday. We need to pull the vote or we risk losing on a scale that makes the whole thing impossible to salvage."
But a senior Conservative source suggested Mrs May was unlikely to postpone the vote, adding: "Delaying things might even make it worse."
Downing Street has also repeatedly insisted that the vote will go ahead om 11 December as planned.
The Prime Minister has also been holding talks with small groups of potential Tory rebels in a bid to win them round. One suggestion which has been floated would see MPs given a veto on whether the UK enters the backstop arrangement designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
'ANOTHER PRIME MINISTER'
The Cabinet warnings came as a top Tory MP said he "hoped" the Government would lose the crunch vote.
Speaking in the Commons debate on the deal, former London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith said: "I believe the Government is going to lose this vote next week, I hope - I'm afraid to say - the Government loses the vote next week.
"And then either this Prime Minister or, if she will not do it, another prime minister must take it back to the EU and change it."
In a bid to win round rebels, Chief Whip Julian Smith last night attended a highly-charged meeting of the Brexiteer European Research Group of Tory MPs - while members of the Privy Council are today being invited to a briefing by the Government's civil contingencies secretariat on the potential impact of leaving the EU without a deal.
The secretariat normally plans the response to major national emergencies - prompting Brexiteers to accuse the Prime Minister of committing "a gross abuse of serious people".