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'We are not nodding dogs': Tory ministers 'ready to resign' over no-deal Brexit

A “very large number” of MPs are also reportedly poised to resign if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured in Number 10 Downing Street yesterday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured in Number 10 Downing Street yesterday.
Image: Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

A NUMBER OF ministers in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet are reportedly ready to resign over concerns he is leading the UK towards a no-deal Brexit.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Health Minister Matt Hancock and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”, according to a report in The Times.

An unnamed minister is quoted in the newspaper as saying a “very large number” of Conservative MPs will quit if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.

Ministers have reportedly raised concerns about Johnson’s senior adviser Dominic Cummings, as well as the “grave” risk of the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland.

“Cabinet will set the strategy, not unelected officials. If this is an attempt to do that then it will fail. We are not a cabinet of sock puppets and nodding dogs,” the report quotes another minister as saying.

Johnson and Leo Varadkar spoke about Brexit over the phone yesterday evening. After the  conversation, a spokesperson for the Irish government said: “Both sides strongly reiterated their desire to reach a Brexit deal. They hope to meet in person later this week.”

Speaking on RTÉ News last night, the Taoiseach said he believed it would be “very difficult” to secure a deal ahead of a crucial European Council summit next week.

“Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiated the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister May’s government over two years.

“And they’ve sort of put half of that back on the table and saying that’s a concession, and of course it isn’t really,” Varadkar said. 

‘Stupid blame game’

Downing Street sources yesterday claimed that German chancellor Angela Merkel had made clear that an agreement was now “overwhelmingly unlikely”.

Following a telephone call with Johnson, she was said to have insisted Ireland must have a veto over Northern Ireland leaving the customs union.

The claims provoked a furious response from European Council president Donald Tusk who accused Johnson of jeopardising the future security of the EU and the UK.

“Boris Johnson, what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game,” he tweeted.

“At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?”

Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed there had been a “frank exchange” of views with Merkel, but refused to be drawn any further.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the UK government must be willing to work with the EU in order to finalise a Brexit deal. Coveney said it was “hard to disagree” with the sentiment of Tusk’s comments.

Contains reporting from PA

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Órla Ryan

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