Tory backbenchers are plotting a “guerrilla” campaign to derail Theresa May’s Brexit plan – even if she wins the crunch Commons vote on her deal next month.
Both Brexiteer and Remainer MPs have spotted that they can launch a last-ditch bid to change the proposals by amending the detailed legislation needed to implement any divorce agreement with the EU, HuffPost UK has learned.
A raft of “killer” amendments to the Withdrawal and Implementation Bill are planned by both sides, with the aim of forcing the Prime Minister back to the negotiating table in Brussels.
With Labour support, the rebels hope that they can fight a rearguard action in the New Year to get their way, even if May somehow squeaks a narrow victory in the meaningful vote in the Commons in December.
Crucially, if the Withdrawal Bill in any way materially alters the deal struck by May with the EU, it could ruin parallel attempts to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement in the European Parliament.
The fresh threat to May’s authority came amid renewed claims from some Brexiteers that an ‘imminent’ move against the PM was likely, with more MPs sending in letters to party chiefs to demand a vote of no confidence in her.
One key figure within the 80-strong backbench European Research Group (ERG), which is chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg, said that the “guerrilla warfare” would allow MPs to wear down the whips and No.10.
“People would need to stock up on book about Algeria or Vietnam, as the wars there would set the template,” the source said.
“Them winning hardly means us losing. We don’t need to get lucky much more than once. It’s always, and ever more pressingly so, in Corbyn’s tactical interest to support us.”
Another Brexiteer added: “If May were to force through the meaningful vote with Labour support, the ERG would then wreck the legislation and so the deal would not be ratified by the UK.”