The expected demise of Theresa May’s Brexit plan has sparked open feuding over what comes next, with the chancellor, Philip Hammond, arguing that proponents of a no-deal Brexit are betraying the referendum result.
The cabinet will discuss on Tuesday the final details of what Downing Street calls a “new and improved deal” to be presented to the House of Commons, expected to include reassurances on areas including the Irish backstop, workers’ rights and environmental protections.
In an indication of the turmoil gripping the party, it emerged on Monday night that the former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has had the whip suspended after saying he would vote Liberal Democrat in Thursday’s European election.
With Conservative MPs near unanimous in saying May will lose the vote on her deal in the week starting 3 June, and Labour not minded to come to her rescue, attention is shifting to what happens when she leaves No 10, as she has promised to do soon afterwards.
Boris Johnson is the current clear favourite to succeed May but he will face intense opposition, especially if he opts to pursue a no-deal departure should negotiations with the EU on a revised Brexit plan founder.
Hammond is due to castigate proponents of leaving the EU with no deal in his most scathing terms yet when he speaks on Tuesday evening to the annual dinner of the CBI, which also vehemently opposes no deal.
A no-deal Brexit was being touted by people “on the populist right”, Hammond is due to say, an apparent reference to Nigel Farage’s Brexit party which could also be read as criticism of Tory advocates of the idea.
He will add: “Let me remind them: the 2016 leave campaign was clear that we would leave with a deal. So to advocate for no deal is to hijack the result of the referendum and, in doing so, knowingly to inflict damage on our economy and our living standards.
“All the preparation in the world [could not avoid the consequences of no deal] so I will continue to fight, in the face of this polarisation, for a negotiated Brexit; an outcome that respects the British people’s decision to leave, while recognising that there is no mandate for a no-deal exit; and that we have an absolute obligation to protect Britain’s jobs, businesses and future prosperity.” [...]
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