THERESA MAY has been threatened with an instant no-confidence motion if she fails to win next week’s vote on her Brexit deal.
The prime minister was also warned by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer that Labour would push for a general election if her proposed EU withdrawal agreement is rejected in the Commons, with dozens of Conservative MPs vowing to rebel.
It came as environment secretary Michael Gove, a Brexiteer, said next Tuesday’s vote would be ‘challenging’ but claimed the government could survive. On a possible vote of no confidence in the prime minister, Sir Keir told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘I think it’s inevitable that we will seek to move that. If she’s lost a vote of this significance after two years of negotiation, then it is right that there should be a general election.
‘If the prime minister has lost a vote of that sort of significance then there has to be a question of confidence in the government.’
But speaking on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gove said: ‘I believe we can win the argument and win the vote. I know it is challenging. We have got to recognise that if we don’t vote for this, the alternatives are no deal or no Brexit.’
Mr Gove, who campaigned for Leave, revealed he ‘reflected long and hard’ about the deal and considered quitting the Cabinet last month.
But he said: ‘While it is imperfect, it is the right thing to do.’
Tory rebels, led by Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, were unable to get the 48 letters from Tory MPs necessary for a vote of no confidence in Mrs May last month.
On Saturday, universities minister Sam Gyimah became the latest to quit over the withdrawal deal following a series of resignations, including that of Dominic Raab as Brexit secretary.
It has been suggested Mrs May will push for a second vote if she loses next week, but EU leaders have insisted they were not prepared to offer any further concessions.
Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis said there was no alternative to Mrs May’s proposal. ‘Plan B is plan A — it’s to get this deal agreed,’ he added. He said he would fight any moves towards a general election, which require a two-thirds majority among MPs.
Mrs May returns from the G20 summit in Argentina today to tell the Commons she shared with international leaders ‘the clear message that Britain is open for business and we are looking forward to future trade agreements’.