BREXIT CHAOS as Theresa May issues no deal U-TURN – 'she wants to divide Brexiteers'
Conservative Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen warned Theresa May was attempting to test the European Research Group to find out where their loyalty lies on Brexit. Mr Bridgen said he would be voting against the motion as he would “struggle to support” something he was told to vote against only two weeks ago. He told BBC News: “I personally think they want to count the guns of the ERG and see how many votes we’ve actually got.
“I think they want to divide the ERG. We’re having a meeting for this afternoon and hopefully, we’ll come to a collective agreement.
“But I’m going to really struggle to support the Government when we’re being asked to vote for something which we were whipped two weeks ago to vote against.
“And something which is not Government’s policy.”
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox urged colleagues in the Tory Party to come together to support Theresa May to avoid sending “the wrong signals” to European leaders willing to cooperate with the UK to renegotiate the terms of the controversial Irish backstop.
Dr Fox told the Today programme: “Our European partners will be watching our debate and listening today to see if they get the impression, if they were to make those concessions, Parliament would definitely deliver on that agreement.
“I think there’s a danger that we send the wrong signals. We need to understand that the public want us to leave the European Union but they would prefer us to leave the European Union with a deal.
“Parliament has a duty to ensure that we send the correct signals, that represent those views of the British people and represent them, too – those we are negotiating with. I spoke to one of my senior French colleagues at the weekend and that was exactly the message.”
He added: “What is happening today is about whether we can display to our European partners that the Prime Minister has the support of the House in continuing to negotiate changes to the Irish backstop.
“There is a willingness on the part of our European partners to accommodate us but they will be wanting to see that Britain will be able to deliver if they were willing to compromise.”
Responding to Dr Fox’s interview, former Brexit minister Steve Backers demanded MPs do not associate “with anything, express or implied, which seems to take no deal off the table.”
Writing on Twitter Mr Baker, who is also a member of the ERG, said: “Compromising no deal would be the daftest negotiating strategy and not in the national interest.
“Today’s storm in a teacup only arises because the Government’s motion is not neutral. This unnecessary carry on is wanted by no one.”
Commons Speaker John Bercow has selected three amendments for consideration as MPs debate the Government’s latest Brexit motion.
The amendments selected are Labour’s proposal to push Theresa May to either put her Brexit deal to a Commons vote by February 27 or give Parliament the opportunity to take control of the process; the SNP’s attempt to push an extension of the Article 50 period’ and Tory former minister Anna Soubry’s proposal for the Government to publish within seven days the most recent official briefing document, relating to business and trade, on the implications of a no-deal Brexit presented to Cabinet.