Cabinet trio issue Brexit delay warning

Greg Clark, Amber Rudd, David GaukeImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke

Brexit should be delayed if Parliament does not approve a deal in the coming days, three cabinet ministers have warned publicly for the first time.

Ahead of crucial votes in the Commons, Greg Clark, Amber Rudd and David Gauke told the Daily Mail time was running out and that they hoped for a breakthrough in negotiations soon.

If not, they said they are prepared to defy Theresa May and vote for a delay.

Downing Street said the trio’s views on no deal were “scarcely a secret”.

Number 10 said in a statement: “The PM is working hard to ensure we get a deal with the EU that allows us to deliver on the result of the referendum.

“That is where the Cabinet’s energy should be focused.”

‘Months of uncertainty’

The three MPs argue if a deal is not endorsed by MPs imminently “it would be better to seek to extend Article 50 and delay our date of departure rather than crash out of the European Union on March 29”.

Mr Clark, the business secretary, along with Ms Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, and the justice secretary, Mr Gauke, said there had been “months of uncertainty”.

They wrote: “It is time that MPs recognised the need to get a deal, accepted that this is the only deal on offer, and supported it.”

But they also warned Brexiteers in the European Research Group that Parliament will block the UK leaving without a deal, stating that if there is a delay “they will have no-one to blame but themselves”.

It comes after the BBC was told dozens of normally loyal Conservatives could back plans to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal if a reworked version of Mrs May’s plan does not pass.

Analysis

By Vicki Young, BBC chief political correspondent

It is a pretty incredible intervention by these three cabinet ministers.

Time and time again Theresa May has said the UK is leaving the EU on 29 March, in just five weeks’ time.

It’s a very different message from these three. They’ve all made it very clear they wouldn’t accept a no deal scenario.

Now publicly, for the first time, they’ve said Brexit would have to be delayed if Parliament doesn’t back a deal next week.

In their article in the Daily Mail they’ve got a pretty stark warning to their colleagues.

This is happening because, on Wednesday, there will be an attempt by MPs to seize control of that Brexit process.

These three are suggesting that they will be prepared to resign in order to back that move.

This is piling the pressure on Mrs May to get the changes to the deal, to bring it back early next week, but it’s also piling the pressure on their colleagues to get behind the deal.

Don’t be in any doubt, what they are saying is not government policy.

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