Theresa May cowed fellow Tories into backing a vote on her post-Brexit customs plan as she told them they would otherwise face a general election, which could ultimately catapult Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10, the Times reports.
In one of her most challenging days as a PM, the Tory leader on Thursday night just narrowly managed to scrape through a crunch parliamentary vote on her customs plan – which would see the UK leaving the EU customs union. An amendment by 12 Tory MPs which would have kept Britain within the union was defeated by 307-301 thanks to four Labour Brexiteers who sided with the government.
According to a source cited by the Times, Tory Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher told rebel MPs they would be responsible for a vote of no confidence if May’s plan was shot down. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, two votes of no confidence in two weeks can trigger a general election.
“[Pincher] said they would pull the third reading of the [trade] bill and call a vote of confidence. He said we’d be responsible for a general election and putting Jeremy Corbyn in No 10. It was appalling behaviour. Totally disgraceful,” one rebel told the Times.
It comes as a YouGov poll reveals Labour has had the lead over the Tories ever since the Chequers cabinet meeting at the beginning of the month, where the PM put forward her much-contested post-Brexit trade plans.
Labour’s lead has grown five points to 41 percent, followed by the Tories at 36, the Liberal Democrats at 9 and UKIP at 7, the survey commissioned by the Times reveals.
May’s alleged threatening of her fellow Tory MPs comes after the leader suffered a string of ministerial resignations, including Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who quit over the Chequers agreement.
As the post-Brexit trade blueprint would see the UK abiding by EU rules in order to have a free trade deal, it stirred outcry among Brexiteers who claimed the deal would be akin to Britain remaining in the bloc.
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