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PM warned group of Tory MPs will quit party if government chases ‘no-deal’ Brexit

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Theresa May has been warned a group of Tory MPs could quit the party if she makes a “no-deal” Brexit her government’s favoured policy.

Former minister Nick Boles delivered a threat to the prime minister on the day her cabinet supported the full implementation of no-deal plans.

Downing Street stressed ministers were simply taking “sensible” steps to prepare for all eventualities, with passing Mrs May’s Brexit deal still the government’s “top priority”.

However, the news prompted Mr Boles to declare he would act “in any way necessary” to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it became the government’s chosen path.

The former skills minister, who served in David Cameron’s government, posted on Twitter: “The Cabinet spent this morning discussing preparations for ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

“I accept that it is prudent for the government to get ready for all eventualities. But I owe my constituents and my colleagues total clarity about my position.

“If at any point between now and 29 March the government were to announce that ‘no-deal’ Brexit had become its policy, I would immediately resign the Conservative whip and vote in any way necessary to stop it from happening.”

Mr Boles was backed up by fellow Remain-supporting Conservative ex-minister Anna Soubry, who suggested a group of Tories would act in a similar way to Mr Boles.

She replied to Mr Boles’ tweet: “You, me and other moderate One Nation Tories. Country must come before party allegiance.”

Labour’s Wes Streeting, who like Ms Soubry supports a second EU referendum, seized on the pair’s remarks to claim it was only a “matter of hours” since Tuesday’s cabinet meeting for Tory MPs to “confirm that a ‘no-deal’ policy would split the Conservative Party and bring down the government”.

He also suggested the prime minister was trying to “blackmail” parliament into backing her Brexit deal by escalating no-deal preparations.

Earlier on Tuesday, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay urged his fellow ministers against believing the UK could see a “managed no-deal” departure from the EU.

He said: “There are a number of scenarios being floated in government without, I think, people really engaging on the consequences of that.

“Either the consequences for our democracy of not delivering on the referendum, not having Brexit, or the idea that we can cherry-pick and have some sort of managed no-deal where the EU would suspend its own red lines, which I don’t think is feasible.”

Mr Barclay spoke after International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt used a lecture to advocate “a smooth and managed glidepath to future trading relationships” with the EU.

The Sun reported Ms Mordaunt, a Brexiteer, is privately supporting a plan to agree a transition period with the EU before then leaving the bloc on World Trade Organisation terms, often known as a “hard” Brexit.

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