Brexit news: The 20 MPs ganging up with Hammond to take down Boris’s Brexit No Deal

Former chancellor Philip Hammond penned a letter to Boris Johnson to say his unwillingness to move forward without Brussels scrapping the Irish backstop has “set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done”. The letter is signed by 20 other senior Conservative Party members, including seven ex-Cabinet ministers. The bombshell letter shatters the peace that has existed among Tory members since Boris Johnson was elected. But who else is party of the Brexit gang?

The rebel group’s letter, dated August 12, begins congratulating Mr Johnson on the recent election as well as his own and his team’s performance during his first few weeks in office.

However, the letter then outlines how Mr Johnson’s resoluteness on the issue of the Irish border is preventing the chance for a deal.

The letter reads: “We place great importance on the commitments you made during your election campaign, both publicly and privately, to pursue vigorously a deal with the European Union that will protect British jobs, businesses and prosperity and your stated view that the chances of No Deal are very small.

“You will have our complete and wholehearted support in seeking to agree such a deal.

“However, we are alarmed by the ‘Red Lines’ that you have drawn which, on the face of it appear to eliminate the chance of reaching agreement with the EU.

“Any deal necessarily has to be a compromise, and many commentators feel that you have set the bar so high that there is no realistic probability of a deal being done.

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“We would therefore greatly appreciate your confirmation that you remain committed to doing a deal; that you accept that any such deal will most likely require compromise and that it remains your view that the chance of No Deal is “less than a million to one”.

“This will reassure not only us, but also the currency markets.”

The Tory members who have signed the letter are:

  • Richard Benyon

  • Steve Brine

  • Alistair Burt

  • Greg Clark

  • Alberto Costa

  • David Gauke

  • Sam Gyimah

  • Stephen Hammond

  • Richard Harrington

  • Simon Hoare

  • Margot James

  • David Lidington

  • Paul Masterton

  • Anne Milton

  • Sarah Newton

  • Caroline Nokes

  • Sir Nicholas Soames

  • Dame Caroline Spelman

  • Rory Stewart

  • Tom Tugendhat

The signatures of so many senior Tory party members is a show of force and sentiment.

In an article published in The Times, Mr Hammond wrote: “The move from demanding changes to the backstop to demanding its total removal is a pivot from a tough negotiating stance to a wrecking one.

“The unelected people who pull the strings of this government know that this is a demand the EU cannot, and will not, accede to.

“Not just because they will be stubborn in their defence of the single market (although they will) but because the fragility of their own coalition of 27 means that any attempt on their side to reopen the package would see their unity collapse.

“They will not take that chance and the smart people in Whitehall know it.”

He added: “So those of us who desperately want to believe this Conservative prime minister is committed to negotiating a deal that will protect our future prosperity need to see evidence that it is happening soon.

“Because no-deal is not an acceptable outcome and after three weeks in which the government’s narrative has gone more or less unchallenged, it is time for us to explain why — by busting two great myths.”

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The former chancellor further reiterated this point on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme where he said any attempt to bypass parliament such as by proroguing parliament to force through a no deal brexit would provoke a “constitutional crisis”.

He said: “To set the bar for negotiations so high that we inevitably leave without a deal would be a betrayal. The prime minister said he would get a deal and we want to see him deliver that deal.

“Pivoting to say the backstop has to go in its entirety, a huge chunk of the withdrawal agreement just scrapped, is effectively a wrecking tactic. The people behind this know that means there will be no deal.”



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