TORY rebels are plotting to sabotage Brexit with a delay to the leaving date – even if Boris Johnson secures an exit deal with the EU.
Former Cabinet Ministers Philip Hammond and Dominic Grieve are calling on the Prime Minister to send a letter to Brussels asking for an extension to the Halloween deadline.
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The move has caused fury in No 10, which has accused Hammond of trying to “sabotage” Johnson’s exit date, reports Mail on Sunday.
It comes amid last-minute negotiations over a new customs arrangement for Northern Ireland, which could be approved at Thursdays critical EU summit in time for MPs to vote for it at Saturdays historic Commons sitting.
The Brexit plan was expected to be discussed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris last night ahead of the Brussels summit.
But without a Commons majority, Johnson will have to depend on both Labour rebels and the votes of many of the former Tory MPs who lost the whip last month when they voted to block a No Deal Brexit.
Philip Hammond has been accused of trying to ‘sabotage’ Boris Johnson’s Brexit date
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has backed Hammond
According to the Mail on Sunday, the group is divided over whether to vote for the deal.
One member also warned it looked like a “pretty hard Brexit” for Great Britain even if it emerges as a “very, very soft Brexit” for Northern Ireland.
The delay group says Johnson should not be allowed to take the UK out of the EU at the end of the month without the Commons being given more time to examine the deal.
A senior Government source told the newspaper: “As Chancellor, Hammond sabotaged the negotiations and sabotaged preparations to leave now hes trying to sabotage leaving altogether.
“His latest move shows that he is not trying to stop No Deal he is trying to enforce a No Brexit.”
But Hammond was backed by Tory former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
He said Johnson would have to accept a delay even if his deal passed.
He said: “Hes going to have to extend. I cannot see how he would be justified in trying to force through a major piece of constitutional legislation, the Withdrawal Agreement Act, in seven days. Its improper.”
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg has issued an appeal to Leavers to back Boris Johnson’s efforts to secure a Brexit deal.
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the leader of the Commons said “as a Leaver Boris can be trusted”.
Rees-Mogg added: “If he thinks the ship of state is worth an extra haporth of tar he deserves support.”
Johnson is expected to offer EU leaders the chance to help deliver his deal this week or agree a no deal departure on October 31.
The prime minister will speak to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, and the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in the next two days and say: Lets finish this off”, reports the Sunday Times.