David Gauke calls for Brexit free vote and hints at resignation over no-deal

Posted On: 
26th January 2019

David Gauke became the second Cabinet minister to call for Tory MPs not to be whipped during next week's crunch Brexit votes.

David Gauke is one of several Cabinet ministers to warn against a no-deal Brexit.
PA Images

The Justice Secretary told BBC Radio Four's Any Questions programme on Friday that "there is a case for free votes in this area to resolve things" - and hinted he could quit the Government if a no-deal Brexit is on the cards.

MPs will get the chance to vote on a range of Brexit options on Tuesday, including calls to extend Article 50 to take the prospect of a no-deal Brexit off the table.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has also suggested she could also resign unless Tory MPs are allowed to vote as they wish on an amendment tabled by Yvette Cooper which would give Parliament the power to delay Brexit for up to nine months.

Mr Gauke said: "I think there is a case for free votes in this area to resolve things. As far as Tuesday is concerned... we need to see what all the amendments are going to be, to see whether Tuesday is a crunch point or not.

"I do think that Parliament is entitled to be involved in this process."

He added: "What I have said repeatedly is if there is a conscious choice 'right, that's it, we're going no deal' when there are other options available, that would be something I would find extremely difficult.

Mr Gauke's comments came as the Cabinet Office warned that no-deal could cause problems for the UK similar to those faced by Iceland during 2010's volcanic eruptions. 

The Guardian reported that the Whitehall department considers the eruptions the “nearest recent example” of what could happen in the event of a disorderly exit from the EU.

At the time, the disruption in Iceland spread across Europe, with air travel particularly badly affected. 

A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “The level of planning required for no-deal Brexit is the same level as war planning. A no-deal Brexit will have the same systemic impact. Iceland gives us hints and clues about what might happen, but Brexit is unlike anything we have ever seen.”