Rudd resigns and quits Tory party as she lashes Johnson’s purgeSeptember 7, 2019
Amber Rudd resigns from Cabinet and quits Tory party as she hits out at Boris Johnson’s purge of 21 rebels as an ‘assault on decency and democracy’
- Rudd said there was ‘no evidence’ to suggest Johnson was seeking an EU deal
- She said she ‘could not stand’ for the dismissal of 21 Tory rebels last week
- Ms Rudd called the exiles ‘good, strong conservatives with progressive values’
- In addition to quitting Cabinet she stood by them by surrendering the whip
Cabinet Minister Amber Rudd resigned from the Tory Party last night in protest at Boris Johnson’s sacking of the rebel Tory MPs who voted last week to block a No Deal Brexit.
In a devastating parting salvo, the Pensions Secretary — one of only a handful of Remain supporting Ministers in Mr Johnson’s Cabinet — said she thought there was ‘no evidence’ that Mr Johnson was trying to strike a deal with Brussels.
Announcing that she would be standing as an independent Conservative in her Hastings and Rye constituency, Ms Rudd attacked the Prime Minister’s decision to deselect 21 Tory rebels as an ‘assault on decency and democracy’.
Ms Rudd was criticised by her former Remain allies after pivoting to sign up to Mr Johnson’s Cabinet and backing his pledge to leave the EU ‘do or die’ and had been under huge pressure over her ‘pivot.’
Britain’s now former Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd leaves the Cabinet Office earlier this week, she dealt a fresh blow to the Prime Minister (right) who has been heavily criticised for ousting 21 MPs this week
Last night Tory sources said her brother Roland, a multimillionaire lobbyist who was a leading figure in the Remain campaign, had exerted ‘huge amounts of pressure on his sister to walk, it was coming from all sides, her family and the MPs’.
In her resignation letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Rudd said: ‘I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the Government’s main objective. The Government is expending a lot of energy to prepare for no deal, but I have not seen the same level of intensity go into talks with the European Union.
‘I must also address the assault on decency and democracy that took place last week when you sacked 21 loyal One Nation Conservatives. This short-sighted culling of my colleagues has stripped the Party of broadminded and dedicated Conservative MPs. I cannot support this act of political vandalism’.
Last night a furious No 10 source said: ‘As the polls show, the voters are quite happy for the PM to get rid of people who don’t want us to sort out Brexit. There are plenty of talented younger MPs to replace any deadwood.’
Mr Johnson has been accused of planning to set the EU ‘on fire’ as the only way to keep his grip on power and hit next month’s Brexit deadline.
Amid fevered speculation in Whitehall that the Prime Minister could be on the brink of quitting, his advisers are this weekend plotting to thwart those MPs who voted last week to force Mr Johnson to seek a Brexit extension. One plan is to be so disruptive to the EU that Brussels is obliged to eject us – while a second is to act on new legal advice from a senior QC which No 10 sources say gives them the authority to simply ignore the Commons order.
Ms Rudd’s tweet tonight with her letter to the Prime Minister, a long-time friend and ally
Mr Johnson has said he would ‘die in a ditch’ rather than obey the MPs, making his resignation seem inevitable if no alternative can be found, unless he breaks the law by simply ignoring the will of MPs.
Many of Mr Johnson’s closest allies believe the battle for Brexit will end up being decided in the Supreme Court. Senior civil servants started making preparations on Friday for Mr Johnson to leave Downing Street as early as tomorrow – giving Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn the chance to form a rival administration.
But No 10 sources insist that Mr Johnson’s immediate resignation is not under consideration.
The Prime Minister will tomorrow make a second attempt to try to break the deadlock by asking the Commons to back a General Election on October 15. But Labour’s opposition to a pre-Brexit poll means he is likely to fail, and one option being considered in Downing Street is for Mr Johnson to trigger a vote of no confidence in himself in order to get an Election.
Ms Rudd leaving Downing Street after retaining her position as the Pensions Secretary
Ms Rudd arriving for a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday wearing a pair of white trainers
Under the new ‘kick us out strategy’, if Brussels fails to strike an acceptable deal the UK Government will use legal chicanery to sabotage the EU from within. However, last night a senior source close to chief negotiator Michel Barnier described the plan as ‘desperate’, while another likened Mr Johnson to ‘the drunk at the party’ and accused him of ‘trying to get thrown out by setting the whole house on fire’.
Under the disruption strategy, Mr Johnson’s allies believe that, by refusing to appoint a UK Commissioner to Brussels beyond the end of October, from the start of November the EU will ‘no longer be legally constituted’ – unless they vote to reduce the number of member countries to 27.
This process would then be vetoed by the UK, which his allies think the EU ‘cannot accommodate’ and would therefore kick the UK out.
After a torrid week of high drama for the Prime Minister, in other developments:
- Downing Street sources described as hysterical a warning by former chief prosecutor Lord Macdonald, who said ‘the law should be followed’ by the PM. The crossbench peer said: ‘A refusal in the face of that would amount to contempt of court which could find that person in prison’, adding that it was ‘not an extreme outcome’.
- Special adviser to the Government Dominic Cummings told aides to hold their nerve in the face of the Remainer ‘meltdown’ and be ‘cool like Fonzies’ and they would ultimately ‘trounce Corbyn’.
- Downing Street plans to suspend Parliament as early as tomorrow evening if MPs vote down Mr Johnson’s second attempt to trigger an election.
- Last night, a new poll showed the Conservatives had extended their lead over Labour as pro-Brexit voters return to the party. The Opinium poll for the Observer newspaper puts the Tories on 35, Labour on 25, the Liberal Democrats on 17 and the Brexit Party on 13.
- Theresa May emerged as the figurehead in a campaign to reverse Mr Johnson’s controversial purging of rebellious Tory MPs.
- Furious Downing Street aides blamed ‘wrecker’ MPs for destroying nascent talks with European capitals about a two-year time limit on the hated EU backstop.
- Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced that the Tories would run a candidate against John Bercow at the next election, ending his career as Speaker.
- Nigel Farage offered the Conservatives a pact to ‘destroy Corbyn’ if Mr Johnson goes for a No Deal Brexit.
- Former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who lost the party whip after rebelling last week, accused rivals of trying to ‘smear’ him after The Mail on Sunday was handed a dossier of allegations against him
- Leaked Cabinet details showed that Michael Gove is preparing to mobilise 1,600 troops to drive petrol tankers to deal with fuel shortages in the event of no deal.
Dominic Cummings, 47, (left outside his home in London yesterday) is understood to have a ‘different interpretation’ of the meaning and effect of the rebel anti-No Deal bill – which is expected to receive royal assent on Monday. It comes as Mr Johnson (right, in Scotland yesterday) said he would not entertain seeking another deadline extension from Brussels
On Friday evening Mr Cummings warned Government special advisers ‘we have a different interpretation of the legislation’ barring a No Deal Brexit, going even further than the Mr Johnson, who said on Friday that the Bill only obliged the Government to delay our EU departure ‘in theory’.
The source said that, while Mr Corbyn was ‘hiding’ from an Election, Downing Street and Conservative Campaign HQ were ‘ramping up’ preparations for a vote.
Downing Street has begun official negotiations with executives from the BBC, ITV and Sky over live TV electoral events, including a head-to-head between Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn.
The source added that Brussels would only grant the UK a Brexit extension if the UK engaged in ‘sincere co-operation’ – which is not the plan. ‘If we engage in obstructive behaviour it would lead to the undermining of EU interests and would leave them questioning the UK’s membership’, the source said.
Lib Dem MEP Luisa Porritt said: ‘Trying to get thrown out by setting the whole house on fire is inconsistent with the Government’s stated aim, which is to negotiate a deal. Boris Johnson increasingly resembles the drunk at the party.
‘His reckless threats risk undermining future trade talks before they have even begun.’
However, the Government source added: ‘Nobody should be in any doubt that we will leave on October 31.’
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