MPs vote on Theresa May’s deal in nine days time - then god knows what happens.
Keir Starmer told Sky News Ridge on Sunday Labour will seek to call a motion of no confidence in the government if May loses the Commons vote.
The shadow Brexit secretary said: “It seems to me that if the prime minister has lost a vote of that sort of significance then there has to be a question of confidence in the Government.
“I think it’s inevitable that we will seek to move that – obviously it will depend on what actually happens in nine days, it will depend on what the response is – but if she’s lost a vote of this significance after two years of negotiation, then it is right that there should be a general election.”
Michael Gove used his appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show to defend the prime minister’s deal. The environment secretary’s argument was, in essence, that while it is not that great it is better than the alternatives.
Gove said other options were either “no deal or no Brexit” and insisted the government could “win the vote”.
“I reflected long and hard about this deal but I concluded, like lots of people, that while it is imperfect it is the right thing to do,” he said.
“One of the things that I hope people will have the chance to do over the next nine days is to recognise that we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good.”
Gove also warned Tories that voting down the deal could lead to Brexit slipping through their fingers.
“There is a real risk if we don’t vote for this deal there may be a majority in the House of Commons for a second referendum,” he said.
In public, allies of May are insisting Downing Street is not wargaming what to do should the vote be lost.
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis insisted May’s deal is the “only option”. He added: “Plan B is plan A – it’s to get this deal agreed.”
He told Ridge on Sunday: “It is the only deal that’s there on the table, it’s the only option we have got it: if this deal doesn’t go through, we have the risk of no Brexit, no deal potentially … there’s a whole range of chaos that can come through.”
Lewis also said he was not planning for an early general election, telling the programme: “I’m ready for the 2019 local elections, that’s what I’m planning for, we will be ready for the 2022 general election.”
But there are multiple reports that cabinet ministers are indeed thinking about a Plan B.
Tory MP Nick Boles told Sky News he had spoken to “probably now six or eight members of the Cabinet” who would come out in support of a Norway-style deal should the PM’s plan fall.
“Some of them are very committed to it – Amber Rudd has been very clear before she went back into the Cabinet that this is her preferred fallback option. Others are thinking it over,” he said.
“But what is true of everyone is that they’re all looking for that realistic, doable, negotiable, deliverable Brexit deal and there aren’t any others if the Prime Minister’s deal is defeated.”
Gove, asked about this fallback option, notably failed to rule out supporting it.