David Davis has warned Theresa May “about 20” Tory MPs would vote to bring down her government if she made backing for her Brexit deal a confidence vote.
The prime minister is holding a crisis meeting of her cabinet this morning after MPs again failed to find a majority for a series of alternatives to her withdrawal agreement.
It is expected May could ask MPs to vote on her deal for a fourth time this week.
According to The Times, the PM could link a vote on her deal to a confidence motion in the government as a whole.
But Davis, the former Brexit secretary, said May should not take for granted that this would force Tory rebels to fold.
“I would make one warning to the cabinet. Don’t be sure that every Conservative MP would vote with you if it was made confidence vote,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme.
“Probably about 20 of them would say this actually is so important, it’s the future of our country, it’s our destiny at stake, it’s more important the Tory party.”
Steve Baker, a leading Brexiteer, yesterday suggested he would be prepared to vote with Jeremy Corbyn if the Labour leader tabled a motion of no confidence in May.
Michel Barnier said this morning a no-deal withdrawal was becoming more likely by the day.
The EU’s chief negotiator said the UK now had two options – quit without a deal, or seek an extension to Article 50.
Speaking in Brussels, Barnier said: “If the UK parliament does not vote in favour of the withdrawal agreement in the coming days only two options would remain.
“Leaving without an agreement or requesting a longer extension of the Article 50 period.”
Tuesday’s extended cabinet was opening with a “political” session in the absence of civil servants, fuelling speculation the senior Tories could use the time to consider a snap election, the timing of the prime minister’s exit from office or to air the bitter grievances between the Leave and Remain wings of the ministerial team.