Parliament returns on Tuesday and it is expected that anti no-deal MPs will – with John Bercow’s help – quickly seize control of the order paper. They will then try and rush through a bill designed to stop the UK from leaving the EU without a deal. I report in the Sun this morning that Number 10 will treat these votes as they would a confidence vote with anyone who doesn’t back the government being immediately disqualified from standing for the Tories again. They hope that this will keep some waverers in the government lobby next week.
It would mean that if former Cabinet Ministers such as Philip Hammond voted for the legislation, as they intend to, they would be barred from standing for the party again; ending their time as Tory MPs. It is hard to think of a precedent for so many Tories going from being Cabinet Ministers to being ineligible to stand for the party in a matter of weeks.
This upping of the stakes will certainly have an effect on some Tory MPs. There will be those who are reluctant to end their careers in the party over this issue.
There will undoubtedly be protests over this decision. Boris Johnson will be accused of purging the Tory party of those opposed to no deal. But the tactics are not dissimilar to those used by John Major to get the Maastricht treaty through in 1993 in the face of opposition from Tory Eurosceptics.
This approach is not without risk, though. There is a danger that MPs will still rebel and then decide that they have nothing left to lose; increasing not only the chances of them voting down the government in a no confidence vote but also backing an alternative Prime Minister.