Cabinet ministers warn Theresa May to rule out no-deal Brexit or face resignations

Posted On: 
19th February 2019

Theresa May has been urged by four of her own Cabinet ministers to rule out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit by the end of the month or face a wave or resignations from the Government.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned MPs that a failure to back her EU agreement risks a no-deal Brexit.

The Guardian reports that senior ministers David Gauke, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Mundell all told the Prime Minister at a meeting on Monday that the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal was hurting businesses.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned MPs that Britain will leave without a deal on 29 March if they do not swing behind her agreement, although her leading Brexit negotiator was last week overhead suggesting Mrs May could instead opt for a "long" extension to talks with Brussels.

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According to The Sun, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and Business Greg Clark both used the meeting to warn Mrs May that up to 22 ministers and government aides could resign unless she takes no-deal off the table before the next Commons Brexit votes on 27 February.

The pair are said to have urged her to commit to extending talks with the EU if an agreement that MPs can swallow is not struck in time.

One of the ministers at Monday's private meeting in Downing Street told PoliticsHome: "We don't want to leave without a deal."

The demand from the four Cabinet ministers came as Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox pressed ahead with Mrs May's plan to try and secure changes to the Northern Ireland backstop.

Brexiteers and the DUP fear that the backstop, which the EU argues is the only way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland if talks break down, could leave the UK indefinitely bound by EU rules.

The pair of top ministers will on Wednesday return to Brussels with new legal wording to try and assuage the concerns of Tory and DUP MPs.


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meanwhile declared that Brexit was now "in God's hands", as he said the EU would be open to Britain delaying its departure in order to avoid a no-deal outcome.

He told German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung: "When it comes to Brexit, it is like being before the courts or on the high seas; we are in God’s hands. And we can never quite be sure when God will take the matter in hand."

The top EU official added: "If you are asking for how long the withdrawal can be postponed, I have no timeframe in mind.

"With Brexit so many timetables have already gone by the wayside."