The Prime Minister has threatened to sack dozens of Conservative MPs if they vote against the government this week.
MPs return to Westminster tomorrow and are poised for a showdown over Brexit, after Boris Johnson pushed for parliament to be prorogued for five weeks in the run-up to the Brexit Halloween deadline.
It is widely expected that pro-Remain MPs, including Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Rory Stewart and Dominic Grieve, could vote for legislation designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit this week.
Despite the government’s majority of one, Tory party whips agreed yesterday that any MP who votes for the rebel legislation will have the whip withdrawn and become ineligible to stand for the party.
The stance was agreed at a Chequers strategy summit which the Prime Minister held with senior aides and Tory whips yesterday.
A source in the whips’ office is reported by several outlets as saying: “The whips are telling Conservative MPs today a very simple message – if they fail to vote with the government on Tuesday they will be destroying the government’s negotiating position and handing control of parliament to Jeremy Corbyn.
“Any Conservative MP who does this will have the whip withdrawn and will not stand as a Conservative candidate in an election.”
This morning education secretary Gavin Williamson told ITV: “Anyone who is voting against the government is in the position where they are voting to undermine the government’s negotiating hand.”
Over the weekend former chancellor Hammond tweeted that it “would be staggeringly hypocritical” for the government to withdraw the whip from its backbenchers.
He noted that eight members of the current Cabinet defied the party whip during Theresa May’s premiership.
“I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a ‘smooth and orderly; exit and a ‘deep and special partnership’ with the EU. Not an undemocratic No Deal,” he tweeted.
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