Monday, 1 April 2019

Dozens of ministers could BACK a customs union after May gives in to Remainers and offers them a free vote tonight

Dozens of Theresa May's ministers could back a customs union with the EU tonight after the Prime Minister caved in and offered her MPs a free vote on alternatives to her deal.

Brexiteer and Remainer ministers are now in an open war, with both factions ready to quit to force Mrs May towards either No Deal or a softer Brexit. 

MPs will decide tonight on whether to try to force the Prime Minister to shift to a customs union or Norway-style soft Brexit.  

The Cabinet is due to have a five-hour showdown summit tomorrow to decide what to do with the outcome of the votes. Number 10 is braced for a possible Cabinet walkout at that stage.

Today it was revealed that Tories will be given a free vote on the alternatives to Mrs May's deal, with 25 or more junior ministers predicted to be ready to back a softer Brexit.   

Cabinet ministers have been told to abstain, but, with a growing rift between remainers and Brexiteers in the Government, some could choose to vote for a customs union and resign. 

All eyes will be on the 10 ministers known to back a customs union with the EU if Theresa May’s deal is killed off, including the ‘gang of four’ cabinet remainers: Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Scottish Secretary David Mundell. They would be willing to quit if Mrs May pushes for a No Deal Brexit and could do it by defying her order to abstain in tonight’s indicative votes. 

Labour has revealed that it will whip its MPs to support the Common Market 2.0 option for Brexit, which would not end freedom of movement from the EU. Labour said they would end freedom of movement in their 2017 election manifesto. They will also support motions backing a customs union and a second referendum on any deal. 

MPs last week rejected all Brexit options put to them in a series of indicative votes.

But remainers are more confident that one will now achieve a majority after the Prime Minister’s failure to get her deal across at the third time of asking. Staying in a customs union appears to have the most chance, as it fell just six votes short last week. Speaker John Bercow will choose from eight alternatives for votes to be put to the House.

But Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg today admitted he is 'very concerned' that Theresa May will add a customs union onto her Brexit deal to get it through Parliament.

He told LBC radio: 'My concern is that the Prime Minister is more concerned to avoid a No Deal Brexit than anything else. And therefore I am very concerned that she could decide to go for a customs union tacked onto her deal.'


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