Theresa May issues rallying cry to rebel Tory MPs as crunch Brexit votes loom
Theresa May will tonight urge her MPs to send the nation “a message” by backing her on a set of crunch Brexit votes.
The Prime Minister will make the plea to the powerful 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers before the EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the Commons tomorrow.
Downing Street fears the Government could face a bruising defeat if Tory rebels line up in defiance to back any of the 15 amendments tacked onto the flagship bill by the House of Lords.
In a rallying cry, Mrs May will tell her MPs: “The message we send to the country through our votes this week is important.
“We must be clear that we are united as a party in our determination to deliver on the decision made by the British people.”
Some of the tightest Commons votes are expected to be on amendments about the EU customs union, the EEA and the “meaningful vote” MPs have been promised on the final Brexit deal.
Insiders are “quietly reassured” that the Government has the numbers to face down pro-Remain Tory rebels however, according to the Guardian.
One source told the paper: “It will be close, but it will be done.”
It comes after senior Conservative MPs from across the Brexit divide joined forces to rally colleagues to back the Government over the crunch 48-hour period.
Former Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan Smith said Tories should “march in lockstep” behind the Prime Minister or risk ushering in a Labour government.
But anti-Brexit Tory grandee Ken Clarke said fellow rebels should “rescue” Mrs May from the grip of her pro-Brexit MPs.
LABOUR CALL TO TORY REBELS
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer appealed to potential Conservative rebels, saying there was “a real chance for parliament to change the course of the Brexit negotiations and bring some order where there is real chaos”.
But Labour faces difficulty in keeping its own MPs in tow, especially on an amendment to keep the UK in the European Economic Area - the so-called ‘Norway model’ the party has rejected.
It has tabled a replacement amendment calling instead for a “new single market deal” with the EU, which infuriated anti-Brexit Labour MPs who back EEA membership.
Prominent MP Meg Hillier last night told BBC Radio 4 she would back the new amendment but still vote for EEA membership because it “gives us some flexibility”.