Cabinet revolt as Amber Rudd warns Boris Johnson not to deselect Tory no-deal rebels
Boris Johnson has been hit by a Cabinet revolt after Amber Rudd told him not to deselect Tory MPs who vote against the Government on Brexit.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said it would be wrong to single out those opposed to a no-deal Brexit when those who rebelled against Theresa May's deal escaped punishment.
More than 20 Conservatives - including former Cabinet ministers Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Rory Stewart - are expected to back moves to force the Prime Minister to seek an extension to Article 50 until 31 January if he cannot get a new deal before 31 October.
That is despite government whips warning the rebels they will lose the Tory whip and be deselected as candidates at the next election.
In an interview with The Spectator's 'Women With Balls' podcast, Ms Rudd said: "I have made my views clear to the Prime Minister that we should not be a party that is trying to remove from our party two former Chancellors, a number of ex-Cabinet ministers, that the way to hold our party together and to get a deal is to bring them onside and explain to them what we’re trying to do and why.
"I don’t think it’s fair either to consider removing the whip from a group of people who oppose no-deal, which is not the government position, but as a legitimate Conservative position, and not to remove the whip from people who have consistently voted against the Withdrawal Agreement and may yet vote against the agreement that Boris Johnson brings back before 31 October.
"So I’m really urging the Government to think very carefully about taking such a dramatic step."
Mr Stewart, who quit as International Development Secretary when Mr Johnson became PM, said: "Nobody should be blackmailed with the threat of being thrown out of the Conservative Party. We are proud Conservatives with a long record of service to our party.
"Our demand for an orderly exit is entirely in line with the manifesto on which we stood."
Meanwhile, it has now emerged that rebels want to seize control of the Commons agenda on Wednesday from 3pm in order to intrroduce their bill.
If passed, it would force Boris Johnson to seek Parliament's approval before he could take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.
A source said: The purpose of the bill is to provide the Government with sufficient time to carry out a genuine and sincere negotiation, to provide time to ratify any deal that is secured and to provide time during which Parliament must seek to build a consensus on the way forward."
But the Prime Minister will warn the rebel Tories that he will call a snap election if the Government is defeated in a crunch vote on Tuesday.