Amber Rudd has told eurosceptic Tory MPs if they vote against Theresa May’s deal then Brexit might not happen, as there is no Commons majority for a no deal exit.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly warned MPs that if they do not vote for her deal then the alternative is no deal. Downing Street has calculated the fear of a no deal Brexit will be enough to convince wavering MPs to back the deal as the least bad option.
But in a sharp shift in tone this morning, Rudd, a Remain supporter who was reappointed to the Cabinet last week, said: “If it doesn’t get through, anything could happen.
“The Brexiteers may lose their Brexit,” the work and pensions secretary told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme. “It is my view that the House of Commons will stop no deal. There isn’t a majority in the House of Commons to allow that to take place.”
Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, said Rudd “seems to have ignored No.10’s spin by admitting that Parliament would stop a no deal Brexit.
“After these comments from Amber Rudd, it’s time for the Government to drop the false choice between a bad deal and no deal, and to come forward with a plan that can command the majority support of Parliament,” he said.
May herself said last week the choice for MPs is her deal “or leave with no deal, or no Brexit at all”.
She will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to meet the EU’s top official under pressure from Tory Brexiteers to secure further concessions.
The PM will meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for talks ahead of the special EU Brexit summit on Sunday.
May is under pressure to make changes to the Northern Irish backstop contained in the Brexit divorce agreement, making it clear how the UK can exit the controversial arrangement.
The trip to Brussels and another potentially tricky session of prime minister’s questions come amid mounting evidence of tensions between May and the Northern Irish DUP over the Brexit deal.
The government caved in to a series of opposition amendments to its Budget-enacting Finance Bill in the latest sign that the DUP’s MPs would not support May’s minority administration.
Last week, senior figures from the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) of Tories were confidently predicting they would get the 48 letters of no confidence from MPs needed to trigger a vote in May’s leadership.
But ERG chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg acknowledged on Tuesday they were struggling to get the support they needed and warned Tory MPs that unless they acted now, May would lead the party into the next general election.
“You find MPs privately who will say to you they think that is a really good idea in any number and I would be quite surprised,” he said.