Cabinet members plot ultimatum to Theresa May on Brexit backstop

The ministers, including Ms Andrea Leadsom (above), leader of the House of Commons, will reportedly meet this weekend to draft terms of the ultimatum they will give British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The ministers, including Ms Andrea Leadsom (above), leader of the House of Commons, will reportedly meet this weekend to draft terms of the ultimatum they will give British Prime Minister Theresa May.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Five UK ministers who favour a clean break with Europe will demand that Prime Minister Theresa May return to Brussels and alter the EU withdrawal agreement as the price of their staying in the Cabinet, the Telegraph reported, citing a person close to one of the officials.

The ministers, including Ms Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, and Mr Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, want Mrs May to renegotiate the "backstop" provision that avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, to give the UK the right to unilaterally withdraw from that portion of the accord, the paper said.

The ministers are to meet this weekend - perhaps Sunday evening (Nov 18) - to draft terms of the ultimatum they will give Mrs May, the Telegraph said.

The group that includes Mr Chris Grayling, Ms Penny Mordaunt and Mr Liam Fox would quit if Mrs May didn't agree within two weeks, it said.

A resignation by the five would increase the chances Mrs May will face a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons and she might be forced to step down.

The paper cited "a source close to Gove" for some of the information and didn't specify sources in other cases.

The Telegraph said the five ministers also would confer with other possibly disgruntled Cabinet members, including Mr Sajid Javid, Mr Geoffrey Cox, Mr Jeremy Hunt and Ms Liz Truss, to seek more support for their demands.