EXCL Theresa May warned of Tory grassroots 'mutiny' if she rules out no-deal Brexit

Posted On: 
22nd January 2019

Grassroots Tories would stage a “mutiny” against Theresa May if she caves in to pressure to rule out a no-deal Brexit, PoliticsHome has learned.

Theresa May has been warned she might not get the support she needs if a snap election is called to break the Brexit impasse
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Activists say they would refuse to campaign for the party in any snap election if the Prime Minister was forced to rule out the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement with Brussels in place.

Mrs May faces a Cabinet revolt unless she allows her MPs a free vote on a backbench bid to block a no-deal departure from the EU.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd is said to have warned the Prime Minister that up to 40 ministers could resign unless they are allowed to back an amendment that could delay the UK’s departure.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to discuss a possible compromise on the Brexit impasse at Westminister unless Mrs May rules out leaving on World Trade Organisation terms on 29 March.

But a senior Tory figure told PoliticsHome: “If no deal was taken off the table there would be a mutiny among the grassroots. It would go down extremely badly.

“If there was a general election and no-deal had been taken off the table then getting people out to do any work would be a real challenge.

“There are lots of ways of registering disapproval like withdrawing labour and making life difficult.”

One activist told PoliticsHome: "I've been avoiding campaigning. A lot of it is to do with how disgusted I am at Theresa May. I feel sorry for her but I detest weak leadership. Tories don't like weak leaders. 

"She's like Mr Burns in that Simpsons episode where they tell him he has all diseases known to man but not one of them can kill him because they are all finely balanced."

The warnings came as Mrs May battles with MPs and Brussels to find a way forward on Brexit that could pass the Commons, after the deal she clinched was overwhelmingly rejected by parliament last week.

But backbenchers are attempting to take matters into their own hands by tabling amendments that would block a no-deal Brexit.

One tabled by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which would allow parliamentary time for a bill that would extend Article 50 if no deal is reached by the end of February, has been gaining traction.

Ms Rudd is said to have urged the Prime Minister to allow a free vote on the cross-party amendment, arguing that it could strengthen her hand in talks with the EU and avoid a flood of resignations.

Mrs May will put her next move on Brexit to a vote in parliament on Monday, when MPs will also get to vote on any amendments selected.

She has repeatedly ruled out removing no-deal as an option, arguing the only way to do so would be to delay or revoke Article 50, which she has argued would not deliver on the referendum result.

In the Commons yesterday, Mrs May said: "The right way to rule out no deal is for the House to approve a deal with the European Union, and that is what the Government are seeking to achieve."

And a Downing Street spokesman, asked last week whether the Prime Minister would rule out a snap general election, said: "Yes."