Theresa May risks Cabinet fury as she delays Brexit meaningful vote again

Posted On: 
24th February 2019

Theresa May has delayed a vote on her Brexit deal yet again - despite the threat of a wave of ministerial resignations.

The move is likely to spark anger among Mrs May's Cabinet colleagues.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister told reporters en route to a summit in Egypt that the next major Commons showdown on her deal would take place by 12 March - less than three weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU.

She said: "My team will be back in Brussels on Tuesday. As a result of that, we won’t bring a meaningful vote to parliament this week, but we will ensure that that happens by 12 March. But it’s still within our grasp to leave the EU by the 29 March and that is what we are planning to do."

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The move tees up a major clash with leading Cabinet ministers, who have threatened to throw their weight behind a cross-party plan to rule out a no-deal Brexit if Mrs May's deal is not backed this week.

The Prime Minister has also been told she faces a string of ministerial exits if a no-deal Brexit becomes government policy - with her new 12 March deadline pushing the crucial vote which could stop such an outcome much closer to the wire.

A senior minister told PoliticsHome: "Tuesday’s Cabinet will certainly be interesting."

Amber Rudd, Greg Clark and David Gauke this weekend openly signalled their backing for the plan to push for an extension of Article 50, warning: "If there is no breakthrough in the coming week, the balance of opinion in Parliament is clear – that it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29."

Leading Cabinet Brexiteer Michael Gove on Sunday told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that he could "entirely understand" the trio's concerns about a no-deal exit from the EU - but he urged them not to back the plan to try and enforce an Article 50 extension.

He said: "I don't think that they should vote for it... They should stay in the Government and they should vote against Yvette's amendment."

The Environment Secretary added: "My intention is to ensure that in the days ahead as many people as possible can support the Prime Minister in her efforts to get a deal across the line."

And he also sought to downplay the significance of the joint op-ed by the three top ministers, saying it had been "an expression of their view" rather than government policy.

He insisted: "It is government policy to leave on the 29th of March. And it is government policy to do everything we can to get there."

'MOST IRRESPONSIBLE'

But the latest move from the Prime Minister has already drawn anger from anti-Brexit MPs, who have accused Mrs May of trying to pressure parliament into backing her deal.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: "Theresa May is fast climbing the league table of the most irresponsible politicians our country has ever had. Kicking the can down the road will only heighten fears and anxiety of businesses and people right across the UK."

Labour's David Lammy, of the Best for Britain campaign group, meanwhile fumed: "The Prime Minister has confirmed what many of us feared - her strategy is just to simply run down the clock in hope that Parliamentarians vote for her deal in desperation against a no-deal scenario."