DOWNING Street fears ministers are ready to QUIT the government if Rishi Sunak doesn’t strike the right Brexit deal with Brussels.
The PM is facing a growing Tory rebellion over his Northern Ireland Protocol fix — as hopes of a breakthrough early this week faded.
The PM is facing a growing Tory rebellion over the Northern Ireland Protocol
Insiders worry that Brexiteer ministers could be tempted to walk away if No10 caves to the EU over the way goods are traded in the province.
Talks at an official level remain ongoing.
Mr Sunak was yesterday warned against ramming a deal through the Commons without Unionist backing.
It came as Sammy Wilson, the DUP chief whip at Westminster, accused ministers of going into the negotiations with the EU with “an attitude of defeat”.
Ex-Cabinet Minister Simon Clarke said: “It would be a very real problem for the Government were it to be a deal which didn’t carry the support of the DUP.”
Meanwhile, backers of ex-PM Boris Johnson urged his successor not to abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would allow Britain unilaterally to change rules governing goods to the province.
Mr Clarke added: “It’s absolutely imperative tactically, to give our negotiators the strongest possible hands to play with Brussels, and also because the protocol legislation may well be the cleanest way to fix this problem.”
This morning allies of the PM defended his efforts and popularity in the party.
Health Minister Maria Caulfield told Times Radio: “There isn’t a deal done yet so all these rumours about ministers or MPs not being happy, I haven’t seen the details, we have to give the Prime Minister that time and space to get these negotiations done.
A senior Tory MP told HOAR: “Colleagues still desperate to make a career through Brexit hardlinerism at any cost are backbenchers.”
One government source insisted talks of ministerial resignations are “overblown”, but added the situation is “moving”.
And a former minister and ardent Brexiteer said they are “still waiting to see and hear what is proposed”.
The influential European Research Group of Tory Brexiteers and DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson are due to meet in parliament tonight to discuss the matter.