Blow for Theresa May as minister declares he will vote to stop a no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
17th February 2019

A minister has vowed to defy his own government by backing a Commons bid to rule out a “dangerous” no-deal Brexit.

Theresa May talks to Tobias Ellwood as she attends the launch of the UK team for the Invictus Games Sydney last year
PA Images

Tobias Ellwood said quitting the EU in March without an agreement would be “catastrophic for Britain” and that the option needs to be taken off the table “very soon indeed”.

The Defence Minister has been a vocal critic of a no-deal outcome, but today became the first frontbencher to openly admit he would be willing to rebel to stop it from happening.

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Mrs May was sent back to renegotiate elements of the Withdrawal Agreement she struck with the EU last month after it was comprehensively rejected by MPs.

The Commons is expected either to vote on a tweaked deal or on the next steps if no concessions are secured by the end of February.

Critics are expected to put forward their own proposals for Brexit - incuding one that would allow MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable in order to stop a no-deal departure.

Mr Ellwood said the Prime Minister was aware that “many ministers” were in favour of backing that bid, when he appeared today on the Radio 5 Live show Pienaar's Politics.

Pressed directly on whether he would vote for it, he added: “Yes, I will intend to do that. I hope that I will not be tested in that way.

“I hope we will either get the meaningful vote through or indeed measures are taken that would then allow people like myself to express those through a free vote.”

The minister then batted away the question of whether the move would force him to resign his post. - although he has said he would be willin tg to quit to stop a no-deal Brexit.


The comments come after Mrs May warned Tory MPs to unite around Brexit, saying that “history will judge us all” if the party fails to deliver it.

In a letter to the 317 Conservative representatives in Parliament, she called on critics of her deal with the EU to “sacrifice if necessary our own personal preferences” in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit or no Brexit at all.