Yesterday Nick Boles made ripples by tweeting that, in the event that the Government were to start actively pursuing a ‘no deal’ Brexit, he would resign the whip and go to (almost) any lengths to block it.
Anna Soubry immediately came out in support (quelle surprise), and he was retweeted by Ed Vaizey. Some sources even suggest that there might be between five and 25 MPs in total prepared to take drastic action against a ‘clean global Brexit’ in certain circumstances.
They might not form as large or well-coordinated a caucus as the European Research Group, but given Theresa May’s slender majority such a rebellion would be more than enough to cause serious trouble.
Given that, we thought it might be worth taking a quick trip down memory lane to the last general election, when Boles and Soubry were each re-elected (in Leave-voting constituencies) on the text of the Conservative manifesto. Ill-fated as that document may have been, it was much less equivocal on Brexit:
“The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK.” (pp. 35-36)
Obviously the manifesto does not mention the Government actively pursuing a no-deal departure as its official policy, but it has been quite clear for 18 months now that willingness to leave without a formal agreement in the event of a impasse in the talks has been baked into May’s negotiating 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.
— Nick Boles MP (@NickBoles) December 18, 2018