Dominic Grieve warns a dozen ministers could quit over no-deal Brexit amid Tory civil war

Posted On: 
15th February 2019

A dozen ministers could resign unless Theresa May rules out a no-deal Brexit by the end of this month, Dominic Grieve has claimed.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve.
Credit: 
PA Images

The former attorney general said they would include as many as six members of the Cabinet as the fragile Tory truce over Brexit collapsed.

Mrs May has pledged to give MPs another vote on Brexit on 27 February, when they will have the option of backing an attempt by Labour MP Yvette Cooper to extend the Article 50 process to give the Government more time to agree a deal.

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The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that the Government is prepared to quit the EU on 29 March without a withdrawal agreement in place. 

Speaking on Radio Four's Today programme, Mr Grieve said he knew of ministers who were willing to stand down in order to back the Cooper amendment.

He said: "I'm always hesitant to speak on behalf of colleagues, but I think we are talking of up half a dozen [in Cabinet]. My understanding is that many of them have made representations directly to the Prime Minister indicating their concern and telling the Prime Minister that if by the end of February there is no deal that has been got through the Commons, we ought to extend.

"If the Prime Minister refuses to do that, I think they face a very difficult choice because unless we as a Parliament and as the House of Commons start to work together to take the necessary steps to prevent no-deal happening, no-deal could just occur. It could all be so chaotic, it might just happen by accident.

"My view is that if they feel she is not taking those steps, I think they are going to have to resign."

In a fresh sign of the civil war over Europe raging within the Conservative Party, government ministers openly criticised hardline Brexiteers who rebelled on Thursday night to condemn the Prime Minister to another defeat.

In response to a tweet from former Brexit Secretary David Davis claiming the UK could leave the EU without a deal, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said: "No. We won’t. We are not leaving without a deal. If you want to leave, you’d better agree one. In the next fortnight would help."

And speaking at a security conference in Munich, another Foreign Office minister, Alan Duncan, also took aim at his colleagues in the Brexiteer European Research Group and called on them to get behind the Prime Minister.

He said: "Back her, back her, back her - otherwise we are all doomed. The ERG needs to realise that our reputation abroad is in free fall because of their actions.

"It’s the art of the possible, it’s not as if she blocking some fantastic alternative. She can only do what the circumstances allow."