Anti-EU Tory MPs ‘threaten to vote down Budget’ over Theresa May's bid for Labour support on Brexit

Posted On: 
7th October 2018

Conservative eurosceptics could vote down the Budget in a show of force designed to undermine Theresa May's Brexit plans, it has emerged.

The threat comes amid signs a Brexit deal may be close.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister is reportedly seeking to convince Labour MPs to back her in a bid to ensure any deal she strikes with the European Union does not run aground in the House of Commons.

But members of the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteers have vowed to vote down key government legislation - including the Budget - if Mrs May tries to rely on Labour support.

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One Conservative rebel told the Sunday Times: "There are plenty of meaningful votes coming up. They still have to pass money resolutions. She hasn’t got a majority and by God she’s going to be shown that she hasn’t got a majority."

The paper also reports that senior ERG member Bernard Jenkin - who co-chaired the official 2016 Vote Leave campaign to quit the EU - told a WhatsApp group of fellow Brexiteer MPs that passing a deal with Labour backing would give eurosceptics fresh license to rebel.

The veteran Brexiteer reportedly told the group that a Brexit deal "pushed by the Conservative establishment but put through with Labour support" would "remove any sense of obligation among Conservative Brexit-supporting MPs to continue to support the government".

But Mr Jenkin took to Twitter to insist the claims were "rubbish" and argue the story "contains inaccuracies linked to my name".

Labour MPs last night pushed back at the suggestion they could be won over by the Prime Minister, with backbencher Peter Kyle accusing Mrs May of "grovelling for help to get her dogs-dinner of a plan through".

BORDER COMPROMISE

The fresh row came as Brexiteers said they would be willing to give ground to Mrs May - but only if the Prime Minister abandoned her Chequers plan and backed a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU.

Senior members of the ERG told the Sunday Telegraph they would be open to allowing EU officials to be stationed at British ports to help ease the flow of goods and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said the move would help to "reassure the EU that their regulatory standards can be upheld and enforced" in the event of a deal.

He added: "The UK has long had arrangements with France under the Le Touquet Treaty where passports are checked by French officers at Dover and UK officers in Calais."

That position won backing from Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory MP who chairs the ERG.

He said: "Agreeing to European officials being stationed at UK ports following the Le Touquet precedent, and for action to be taken against companies that fail to meet EU rules on goods exported to the EU, are both sensible steps.

"I would be prepared to support them to help to minimise friction in trade while allaying European concerns about compromising the single market."

'CAR CRASH' NO DEAL

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday said the chances of Britain and the EU agreeing a Brexit deal before a key summit in November had increased.

His comments came amid reports that the two sides have tabled a string of concessions designed to break the the Northern Ireland border deadlock.

"I have reason to think that the rapprochement potential between both sides has increased in recent days," he said.

But Number 10 is said to fear that leaving the bloc without a deal remains a real possibility.

The Government has reportedly stepped up its planning for a 'no deal', with one Cabinet minister telling the Mail on Sunday that crashing out was "now a real prospect".

"And it would be a car crash," they added. "We are talking about a number of Cobra-level crises."