THERESA MAY’S ailing government was plunged into further disarray today when a ninth Tory jumped ship over her Brexit white paper.
North Cornwall MP Scott Mann quit as ministerial aide to the Treasury, saying he would not “deliver a watered-down Brexit.”
He follows Brexit secretary David Davis and foreign secretary Boris Johnson out the door.
Business Secretary Greg Clark begged Tory rebels today to back Ms May if they want to leave the EU.
Pro-Brexit backbenchers, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sir Bernard Jenkin, Priti Patel and Iain Duncan Smith, have tabled a series of amendments to the customs Bill undermining the Brexit “strategy” agreed at Chequers.
There have been conflicting reports from on the government’s response to the amendments, with some sources saying no decision had been made but others saying ministers would accept all the changes.
Mr Jenkin said that the Chequers plan was “dead” and that it is “neither beloved” by Tory Remainers or Leavers.
Mr Rees-Mogg, leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, has played down suggestions that there are plans to topple Ms May, saying she still has time to change tack.
But more than 100 MPs have joined a WhatsApp group organised by ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker to co-ordinate the fight against Ms May’s white paper proposals, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The number is more than double the 48 needed to submit letters of no confidence in the Tory Party leader to force a leadership contest.
Negotiations on Britain’s withdrawal agreement and future relations with Europe resume in Brussels today, but new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab will not hold face-to-face talks with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier until Thursday.
Labour Brexit spokeswoman Jenny Chapman criticised Mr Raab for failing to attend the start of the new round of talks.
She said: “Over the past week the government’s Brexit strategy has descended into utter chaos.
“But rather than trying to repair the damage and negotiate with Brussels, the new Brexit Secretary has decided to take the evening off and attend a summer drinks reception. This is simply not good enough.”
Lamiat Sabin is the Morning Star’s Parliamentary Reporter
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