David Gauke suggests he is ready to lose Tory whip in order to block no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
1st September 2019

David Gauke has hinted he would be prepared to lose the Tory whip in order to block a no-deal Brexit.

David Gauke said the national interest "has to come first"
Credit: 
PA

The former justice secretary said the national interest “has to come first” as he prepares to work with cross-party MPs to force legislation through the Commons this week intended to extend the Brexit deadline.

But Boris Johnson sent a stark message to rebel Tories on Sunday that they must choose between his Government or “chaos” with Jeremy Corbyn, and suggested they could be deselected as Conservative candidates in a snap general election. 

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Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Gauke said: “I’ve seen those reports I mean if it is the position now that defying a whip on a European vote is a matter that you lose the whip for the Conservative party, then I think there’s quite a lot of Conservative MPs who over he recent months would have lost the whip. 

“But sometimes there is a point where you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest, and the national interest has to come first.

“But I hope it doesn’t come to that and I hope cooler and calmer heads will look at this and think that trying to split the Conservative party in this way is not a sensible way forward for the Conservative party, or indeed the country."

Mr Gauke, alongside Tory rebels Philip Hammond and Dominic Grieve, is expected to meet with Mr Johnson on Monday to set out their concerns over his plans.

The former Chancellor Mr Hammond also addressed the prospect of having the whip withdrawn on Saturday, hitting out at the move as “staggeringly hypocritical”.

He said: “If true, this would be staggeringly hypocritical: 8 members of the current cabinet have defied the party whip this year. 

“I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a “smooth and orderly” exit and a “deep and special partnership” with the EU. 

“Not an undemocratic No Deal.”

The draft bill to thwart no-deal, which has been coordinated by a group of cross-party MPs, is due to be published on Tuesday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma also speaking to Sky News urged his colleagues working with Labour to reflect on their position.

He told the show: “What I would say to my colleagues is that siding with the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, they need to reflect very clearly on what these people want - they do not want to delay Brexit, they want to frustrate Brexit.

"Are you on the side of people who want to frustrate Brexit, people who are frankly not prepared to stand up for Britain, or do you want to stand with the people and deliver on the referendum result?"