Now Brexiteer Tories could block Budget in ‘guerilla war’ with Theresa May

Don’t laugh just yet, Theresa! May now faces Tory ‘guerilla war’ as hardline Brexiteers say they could block the BUDGET and she could face a leadership challenge in days in bid to scupper plans to extend the transition period

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has vowed to scupper any Brexit transition extension 
  • The European Research Group has vowed ‘guerilla warfare’ against the PM
  • Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers are beginning to annoy moderate colleagues
  • One back bencher accused the ERG  of acting like ‘schoolyard bullies’ 

Hardline Eurosceptics were urged to back down last night after threatening to block the legislation needed to deliver Theresa May’s Brexit compromises.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of anti-EU Tories, yesterday confirmed that MPs could use parliamentary tactics to try to scupper any extension to the Brexit transition this autumn.

An ERG source said ‘guerilla warfare’ against Mrs May’s plans could also extend to this month’s Budget – and warned she could face a leadership challenge within days.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s anti-EU European Research Group is planning a ‘guerilla war campaign against Theresa May’s Brexit plan to force through the hardest departure possible

An increasing number of Tory MPs believe Theresa May no longer commands the respect of the party 

An increasing number of Tory MPs believe Theresa May no longer commands the respect of the party 

The threat came despite a warning from Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt that Tory infighting is undermining Mrs May’s efforts to secure a Brexit deal in Brussels. He said: ‘What we have to remember is the strength of the EU in this whole process, is they have stayed united. So we just stay united behind her so that they know we are backing her as she battles for Britain.’

There were indications that Eurosceptic threats are starting to irritate more moderate MPs. Former Tory minister Andrew Percy, who campaigned for Brexit, said: ‘The ERG are acting more and more like spoiled schoolyard bullies.

‘More importantly, they are aiding the EU by their actions and engaging in behaviour that makes our leaving the EU less likely.’

Simon Hart, founder of the 80-strong Brexit Delivery Group of Tory MPs who want to give Mrs May space to get a good deal, said critics undermining the Prime Minister were ‘weakening our negotiating position’. He added: ‘Our best chance of success lies in keeping our nerve, avoiding internal disputes and making sure we rule nothing in or out.’ In talks with EU leaders this week, Mrs May made two critical concessions aimed at ‘unblocking’ the talks.

Boris backs anti-Brexit rebel Tory MP 

Boris Johnson yesterday backed a Tory MP who said he would not vote for his own party and branded the Government a ‘s*** show’.

Johnny Mercer, a former British Army officer who was only elected in 2015, said he would not have run for Parliament ‘if the situation was like it is now’. He added that with hindsight his pre-MP self ‘wouldn’t vote’.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary over Theresa May’s Chequers plan for Brexit, sided with him.

In a provocative move, he tweeted: ‘The Conservative Party is fortunate to have MPs with the passion and determination of Johnny Mercer – his fight for veterans shows why we need more like him.’

She agreed to consider extending our transition out of the EU by ‘a matter of months’ if it helps clinch a deal. And she dropped her demand for a fixed end date on a controversial ‘backstop’ plan that could keep the whole UK in a ‘temporary’ customs union after Brexit.

Critics warn the UK could have to contribute up to £16billion to remain tied to the EU for another year, as well as accept free movement and the imposition of EU laws over which it would have no say.

Mr Rees-Mogg said Eurosceptic MPs could block the plans when ministers bring forward the Bill needed to enshrine a deal in law. He said: ‘I think that’ll be very hard to get through the Commons.’

An ERG source said there could be a vote of no confidence in Mrs May as early as next week. The source said: ‘I just don’t see any way round a confidence vote now.’

But there are signs Mrs May’s gambit could break the deadlock in Brussels. Angela Merkel warned EU leaders to show more ‘flexibility’ to reach a deal with the UK.