Cabinet at war over how to respond to Brexit deal disaster in the Commons as ministers beg Theresa May to cling on to avoid economic meltdown
- Theresa May held Cabinet meeting before Commons showdown on Brexit deal
- Ministers clashed over how to respond to the prospect of a disastrous defeat
- Disagreements over whether to hold indicative votes in House of Commons
The Cabinet descended into bitter infighting over how to handle the Brexit deal defeat last night.
Remainer and Brexiteer factions clashed over whether to stage ‘indicative votes’ in the Commons to work out what approach might command a majority.
They also did battle over whether the government should reach out to Labour, and rule out leaving the EU without any agreement.
The splits deepened as Mrs May gathered her team hours before the crucial Commons showdown on the Brexit deal.
Ministers led by Chancellor Philip Hammond are understood to have urged Mrs May to cling on regardless of the scale of her loss, voicing alarm about the economic panic her departure could cause.
Ministers led by Chancellor Philip Hammond are understood to have urged Mrs May to cling on regardless of the scale of her loss
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (pictured left arriving for Cabinet last night) is thought to be urging Mrs May to seek a softer Brexit if her deal fails. Steve Barclay (centre) and Chris Grayling (right) were also at Cabinet
The premier insisted she was the ‘servant of the people’ and was determined to stay on to implement the referendum result, saying her plan was still the ‘only option’.
MailOnline understands there were pointed exchanges over whether to stage a series of ‘indicative votes’ to establish what Brexit options might command a majority in Parliament.
Remain-leaning ministers including Amber Rudd, David Gauke and David Lidington were ‘heavily sat on’ by a more hawkish group led by Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom and Gavin Williamson. One supporter of the plan admitted it was given a ‘good kicking’.
Mr Gauke also urged the PM to rule out a no-deal Brexit, but was slapped down by the same combination of colleagues, according to sources.
Mrs May will have three days to set out her ‘Plan B’, and is preparing to fly to Brussels almost immediately for more talks. The German foreign minister Heiko Maas yesterday held out the prospect of reopening negotiations.
Senior sources likened the Commons clash to a big football match that was going to a ‘replay’. Another aide said: ‘She is not going to abandon the deal and she is not going to quit.’
However, Remainer rebels are plotting to wrestle control of the process from the government and hand it to Parliament.
Other options being pushed by MPs include a Norway-style free relationship, a second referendum or a general election – although there does not appear to be any clear majority in Parliament for any of the outcomes.
The PM’s spokesman said Cabinet discussed what will happen before and after the crunch vote last night.
‘The PM said the ‘Government is the servant of the people’,’ the spokesman said.
‘She believes passionately that we must deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum.
Jeremy Hunt (left) and Sajid Javid (right) were among the ministers attending Cabinet yesterday before the crunch vote. They both opposed calls for ‘indicative votes’ in the Commons on what to do next on Brexit
Theresa May managed a faint smile as she emerged from Downing Street yesterday ahead of the crucial Brexit deal vote