Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has reportedly warned the Prime Minister that up to 40 MPs could resign if they’re not allowed to support a motion to extend Article 50.
According to the Times, Remainer Ms Rudd has warned Theresa May of potential resignations if ministers can’t vote for an amendment tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tory Nick Boles, which calls for Article 50 to be extended if no deal is reached by February 26.
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“Amber is telling Downing Street to make it a free vote on behalf of lots of people,” a source reportedly told the Times.
A free vote would mean MPs could vote according to their own beliefs, rather than being bound by party policy.
'No majority' for second referendum
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood has expressed similar sentiments, calling for Brexit to be delayed if no deal has been agreed by parliament by March 29 - the date the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.
He sent a tweet about banana cake as a metaphor for extending Article 50.
“Cooked a banana cake yesterday. Told my son it will be ready in 20 mins - according to the cookbook. It took 30. It was a big decision - honouring the cookbook or take more time to get the right result,” he wrote.
In a statement to the Commons on Monday, Mrs May reiterated her opposition to extending Article 50, and to a second referendum.
“I fear a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country - not least, strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom,” she said.
“It would require an extension of Article 50… And I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy…
I do not believe there is a majority for a second referendum.”
She also committed to protecting workers’ rights, being more “inclusive” in how the future relationship with the EU was discussed in parliament, and abolished the fee for EU nationals to register for settled status in the UK.