May's Brexit deal as good as dead with Cabinet split: Report

Members of the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave group having their say at a political rally in central London last Saturday. EU leaders have refused to renegotiate the Brexit deal and several said the problem of its ratification could be resolved only by
Members of the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave group having their say at a political rally in central London last Saturday. EU leaders have refused to renegotiate the Brexit deal and several said the problem of its ratification could be resolved only by MPs. Few now believe that the agreement, forged over 17 months of tough negotiations, will pass in a vote of MPs in January.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESS

Three groups of MPs discussing options, including holding second referendum

LONDON • A majority of the British Cabinet considers Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal to be dead and three factions are discussing other options, including a second referendum, The Times reported yesterday.

The rival groups plan to make opposing demands to Mrs May at a meeting this week, the newspaper said, without revealing how it got the information.

One group - Works and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Cabinet Office Secretary David Lidington, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark - is leaning towards backing a second referendum if all other options are exhausted, according to the newspaper's account.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Sajid Javid are understood to be refusing to accept the prospect of leaving without a deal but want Brexit to proceed.

A third group of House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt are said to be willing to leave without a deal, the newspaper said.

Ms Rudd yesterday called for MPs from all parties to "forge a consensus" on Brexit to avoid a potentially damaging "no deal" withdrawal from the EU on March 29.

TRY A DIFFERENT WAY

(Brexit could succeed) if politicians are willing to try a different way and only if a coalition of those who want what's best for this country argue a little less and compromise a little more.

MS AMBER RUDD, Works and Pensions Secretary, in urging a consensus to avoid a potentially damaging no-deal Brexit.

SET FOR ANOTHER REFERENDUM

We're actually becoming more divided on this subject than perhaps we were 21/2 years ago and that's why I think a second referendum gets closer. I hate the thought of it, but I tell you what, I'm going to spend every minute getting ready for it.

MR NIGEL FARAGE, former leader of the UK Independence Party, on a second Brexit referendum as the most likely outcome.

She said Brexit could succeed "if politicians are willing to try a different way and only if a coalition of those who want what's best for this country argue a little less and compromise a little more".

Her comments, in an article in the Daily Mail newspaper, come after Mrs May returned from an EU summit without the reassurances she said she needed to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons.

Few people now believe that the agreement, forged over 17 months of tough negotiations with Brussels, will pass in a vote of MPs planned for next month.

In Brussels, EU leaders refused to renegotiate the Brexit deal and several said the problem of its ratification could be resolved only by MPs.

The Prime Minister, who previously ruled out holding a second referendum, has floated it as a possible outcome.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a leading pro-EU advocate, said last Friday that a second Brexit referendum was now the most likely outcome to break the stalemate, a view shared by ardent Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party.

"We're actually becoming more divided on this subject than perhaps we were 21/2 years ago and that's why I think a second referendum gets closer," Mr Farage told BBC TV.

"I hate the thought of it, but I tell you what, I'm going to spend every minute getting ready for it."

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 16, 2018, with the headline 'May's Brexit deal as good as dead with Cabinet split: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe