Theresa May will have to call a general election if the Commons rejects her Brexit deal on Tuesday evening, a senior Tory MP has said.
Charles Walker, vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said the current government was “letting the country down”.
“If it doesn’t go through tonight, as sure as night follows day, there will be a general election within a matter of days or weeks. It is not sustainable, the current situation in parliament,” he told BBC Radio 4′s World at One programme.
Walker, who is also chairman of the Commons procedure committee, said if MPs reject her deal the prime minister could call an election at the end of this week to take place in seven weeks time.
“We owe it to the country to provide them with a government that can govern,” he said.
And he warned Tory MPs who plan to vote against the deal that it could mean Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister.
Walker said May would lead the party into any election. “We are not going to have a new leader,” he said. “Needs must when the devil rides.”
“If the deal is defeated tonight it is impossible to imagine that the prime minister would allow this to drift into next week, when Oliver Letwin will table a bill for the House of Commons to take over the negotiating process. No government is going to allow that to happen.”
He added: “We cannot continue to behave like this as a government. It is not fit for purpose. We are not doing what we need to do, which is govern the country effectively and properly.
“So, if we have to have a general election to see where the people want to take the country, then that’s what we have to do.”
The prime minister looks on course for another heavy defeat this evening after attorney general Geoffrey Cox concluded “the legal risk remains unchanged” of the UK being unable to leave the backstop without EU agreement.
Following that ruling, the Brexiteer ERG group of Tory MPs as well as the DUP said it could not recommend backing the deal.