Conservative MPs have been warned they risk being kicked out of the party if they defy Boris Johnson’s plan to leave the European Union with or without a deal on October 31.
A senior source from the whips office, which enforces party discipline in parliament, has told lawmakers they will not be allowed to stand for the Conservatives in the next election or be able to sit with the party in parliament now if they vote against the government on Brexit.
It comes ahead of an explosive week in Britain’s parliament, as opposition MPs backed by a significant number of Tory rebels plan to push through legislation that would force Johnson to extend Article 50 unless a deal could be reached with the EU before the Brexit deadline.
Conservatives including party veteran Ken Clarke, former Chancellor Phillip Hammond and leadership campaigner Rory Stewart have pledged to back efforts to prevent no-deal.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has branded Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament from September 12 ahead of a Queen’s speech on October 14 an “attack on democracy”. Thousands took to the streets over the weekend to protest the decision.
Any deselection of MPs would deprive Johnson of his parliamentary majority – currently just one MP – and increase the chances of an early election in Britain.
British education minister Gavin Williamson said on Monday it would be right to deselect any lawmaker from the ruling Conservative Party who votes against the government on Brexit.
“Anyone who is voting against the government is in a position where they are voting to undermine the prime minister’s negotiating hand,” Williamson, a former chief whip, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain. “They should think very seriously about that and the consequences.
“I think that if they (the government) take the view that it is serious enough, that it is undermining the nation’s position and the prime minister’s position, if that is their decision it would be the right decision. If that is what is necessary.”