How is the Cabinet responding to the latest Brexit developments? This evening, Boris Johnson will meet with his ministers to discuss the next steps forward – and rumours of an early election are rampant. No. 10’s decision to withdraw the whip and stop from standing at the next election any Tory MP who rebels on Brexit will no doubt come up.
Today, I spoke to Amber Rudd about the move in a recording for The Spectator Women with Balls podcast. The full episode will be released on Friday but given the ever-changing nature of politics, Coffee House is publishing her Brexit comments in advance. The Work and Pensions Secretary urged for consistency when it comes to the threat of deselection:
KB: When you look at some of your One Nation Caucus colleagues who might be falling into that route [of rebelling and then having the whip withdrawn] – does that stance worry you?
AR: It does and I have made my views clear to the Prime Minister that we should not be a party that is trying to remove from our party two former chancellors, a number of ex-cabinet ministers, that the way to hold our party together and to get a deal is to bring them onside and explain to them what we’re trying to do and why.
I don’t think it’s fair either to consider removing the whip from a group of people who oppose no deal, which is not the government position, but is a legitimate Conservative position, and not to remove the whip from people who have consistently voted against the Withdrawal Agreement and may yet vote against the agreement that Boris Johnson brings back before 31 October. So I’m really urging the government to think very carefully about taking such a dramatic step.
KB: If they do take that stance and in a future date, the government gets a Brexit deal and some Tory MPs don’t vote for that Brexit deal, would you think the same thing should apply?
AR: That’s exactly what I think. I think there has to be fairness in this. If this government is now going to be very tough about following the whip, I don’t think it should apply it discriminatorily. It should be one case for all.
The full episode will be released on Friday here.