Fury at the 12 Tories who vowed to back PM on Chequers plan and didn’t

Tory Remainer rebels face accusations they went back on a deal to back Theresa May over her Chequers blueprint.

A leaked email showed that MPs pledged to support the Prime Minister several weeks ago if she signed up to ‘close alignment’ with the EU.

But 12 MPs voted against the Government on the customs union, despite Mrs May making clear concessions in the Brexit white paper.

The email, published by the Guido Fawkes website, was written by Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, who led last night’s customs rebellion.

Sent to more than 20 pro-Remain MPs at the start of July, it made clear Remainers were backing away from a rebellion on customs in the EU Withdrawal Bill on the understanding they would wait to see Mrs May’s proposal on the future relationship.

Top Left to right is Kenneth Clarke, Antoinette Sandbach, Guto Bebb, Phillip Lee, Heidi Allen, Bob Neill and bottom left to right is Anna Soubry, Jonathan Djanogly, Nicky Morgan, Stephen Hammond, Dominic Grieve and Sarah Woollaston

Who has quit over May’s Brexit policy? 


David Davis – Brexit secretary

Boris Johnson – Foreign secretary 

Steve Baker – Brexit minister

Scott Mann – ministerial aide 

Robert Courts – ministerial aide 

Conor Burns – ministerial aide

Chris Green – ministerial aide 

Maria Caulfield – Tory vice-chair

Ben Bradley – Tory vice-chair


Guto Bebb – Defence Minister 

Philip Lee – Justice Minister 

But they would keep their powder dry only if Mrs May’s plan met with their approval. If they decided it was a ‘foolish Brexiteer scheme’, they would move to keep Britain in the customs union, he wrote.

Former transport minister Mr Hammond, whose South West London constituency voted heavily to Remain, was sacked as a Tory party vice chairman last year following a previous Commons rebellion over Brexit. In the leaked email, he wrote: ‘The PM has our support if the Cabinet resolves a proposal which not only allows continued economic alignment but that the Cabinet must also agree the backstop arrangement.

‘The proposal must be one that the EU will say shows progress and are likely to welcome. No more time nor political capital can be spent on foolish Brexiteer schemes.

‘If the Cabinet can’t agree this then we will force a solution in Trade Bill and the Customs Bill. The only reason a compromise was accepted on meaningful vote was because it delivered what we wanted and we wanted to give the PM the space she asked for – and that has now gone.’

Last night one senior Tory source said: ‘It’s what we’ve come to expect because you can’t trust these people as far as you can throw them’.

One Remainer rebel suggested he had been ready to back the Government, but changed his mind in fury at Mrs May’s concessions to Eurosceptic Tories.

Then the PM was forced to back down in the face of a potential rebellion from members of the European Research Group and accept four of their amendments to the Customs Bill. Speaking in the Commons yesterday Dr Phillip Lee revealed he had changed his mind over the PM’s decision on Monday night to bow to Eurosceptic sentiment.

A leaked email from Stephen Hammond showed that MPs pledged to support the Prime Minister several weeks ago if she signed up to 'close alignment' with the EU

A leaked email from Stephen Hammond showed that MPs pledged to support the Prime Minister several weeks ago if she signed up to ‘close alignment’ with the EU

He told MPs: ‘Yesterday was the worst experience I have had in my eight years in politics. I am sorry, but it changed everything.

‘I started the week intending to support our Prime Minister in her plan and White Paper. Yesterday changed that.’

The revelations sparked uproar among Eurosceptics who suggested the Government had briefed Remainer rebels in advance.

One senior Brexiteer told the Mail the email showed Remainers had been briefed on the Chequers agreement before it was announced late on July 6.

‘They knew what was coming, you can see that very clearly,’ the source said. On the email chain were most of the 12 MPs who rebelled on customs last night as well as several other Remain supporters including Tom Tugendhat, Jeremy Lefroy, Paul Masterton, Mark Pawsey and Oliver Heald.

Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, dubbed Ms U-turn, had been on Newsnight on Monday to profess loyalty to the PM, before voting against her yesterday. She told the programme: ‘People do not want there to be a leadership challenge.

The majority of the Parliamentary party have made it clear to colleagues that they absolutely do not want there to be any form of leadership contest.

They want the Prime Minister’s leadership to continue, they want there to be space to negotiate Chequers.’

And she accused hard Brexiteers of causing trouble for Tory leaders for the past 30 years. Last night she tweeted: ‘I voted for the amendment with a heavy heart.’


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