Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, Minister for Northern Ireland Julian Smith, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Health Minister Matt Hancock and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest Brexit deal was dealt a huge blow by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday. A cabinet minister told The Times there was a “very large number” of Tory MPs that will quit if it comes to a no deal Brexit.
The news comes after ministers in a cabinet meeting warned Mr Johnson about the “grave” risk of the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland and raised concerns about his most senior adviser and Brexit mastermind Dominic Cummings.
A cabinet minister told the newspaper: “Cabinet will set the strategy, not unelected officials. If this is an attempt to do that then it will fail.”
Its comes after EU boss Donald Tusk accused Britain of playing a “stupid blame game” over Brexit after a Downing Street source said a Brexit deal was essentially impossible because German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made unacceptable demands.
Meanwhile, EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned a no deal Brexit would cause the collapse of the UK.
With just over three weeks before the UK is due to leave the European bloc, the future of Brexit remains deeply uncertain as both London and Brussels position themselves to avoid blame for a delay or a disorderly no-deal Brexit.
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Brexit latest: Boris Johnson is under pressure over ministers plotting to resign
Brexit news: Michel Barnier has said a Brexit deal is possible
12.02pm update: Michel Barnier says Brexit deal is ‘possible’
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said he believed that reaching an exit deal with Britain was “very difficult but possible”.
He said: “The EU will remain calm, vigilant, respectful and constructive. The technical talks continue.”
Asked by a reporter if a deal was possible, he said: “I think the deal is possible. Very difficult but possible.”
11.46am update: Guenther Oettinger says Boris Brexit plan was not satisfactory
The EU’s top budget official, Guenther Oettinger, said the European Union executive agreed with the assessment of the bloc’s Brexit negotiator that the latest British offer did “not represent a satisfactory solution”.
11.18am update: Court holds loaded gun to Boris Johnson’s head forcing PM’s hand over Brexit extension
Scotland’s highest court has been accused of “holding a loaded pen to Boris Johnson’s head” after it delayed a decision on whether it will force the Prime Minister to ask for a Brexit delay in the event of a no deal exit.
Anti-Brexit campaginers celebrated after a panel of three senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh have decided to wait on a ruling until October 21, which is after Boris Johnson attends the EU Summit and holds a special sitting in Parliament.
Waiting on a decision means the Prime Minister will be negotiating and threatening a no deal Brexit during discussions without knowing the courts decision.
READ MORE: Boris Johnson ready to use incredible strategy to defy Remainers
Brexit news: The EU has dismissed reports it will offer concessions to the UK
Brexit latest: Downing Street said a deal was virtually impossible after a telephone call between Boris and Merkel
11.17am update: Brexit is a tragedy
Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said Brexit is a “tragedy” for Britain and the EU and should be agreed under the softest possible terms.
He said: “I still think that the best outcome is a Brexit that is as soft as possible, but it takes two to tango.”
11.01am update: EU dismisses claims of concessions
An EU official said: “No bold new offer is coming from the EU side.”
They dismissed reports the EU was about to offer the UK concession in order to get a Brexit deal across the line as “not true” and “spin”.
10.14am update: Stephen Barclay to lunch with Barnier
The Brexit Secretary is reportedly set to have lunch with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Thursday.
The lunch would be “to check if there is any more flexibility on the UK side to head for a deal. For now, there seems to be none,” according to a diplomat.
Brexit latest: Ministers are plotting to resign if Boris ploughs ahead with no deal Brexit
10.03am update: Pound jumps after Brexit concession
Sterling jumped more than 0.5 percent against the US dollar on Wednesday after the EU was ready to agree to a major concession in Brexit negotiations.
The Times reported that the bloc is prepared to offer a mechanism for the Northern Irish assembly to leave a new so-called backstop after a number of years.
Lee Hardman, a currency strategist at MUFG based in London, said: “By allowing Northern Ireland to take the decision on whether they want to stay in the EU or not, the market has taken this news positively as it will be a major step towards a breakthrough in the Brexit deadlock.
The pound was last up 0.4 percent at $ 1.2265, after spiking to as much as $ 1.2292. It was also up against the euro by 0.2 percent at 89.54 pence.
9.32am update: EU could offer Boris Johnson major concession
Brussels leaders could be about to offer Boris Johnson a major concession in a desperate bid to revive Brexit talks ahead of next week’s crunch summit.
EU capitals are considering a unilateral exit clause from the controversial Northern Ireland backstop after a set number of years.
Under the plans, the Northern Ireland Assembly would be handed a vote on whether to continue with or revoke the measure, as long as both communities in the province agree to it. This could essentially set a five-year time-limit to the backstop, which would be seen as a huge victory for the Prime Minister.
A European source told the Times: “A landing zone on consent could be a double majority within Stormont, to leave, not to continue with arrangements after X years.”
8.50am update: Government to hold special sitting
Boris Johnson’s government will hold a special sitting of Parliament on Saturday, October 19 with or without a Brexit deal – the day after the EU summit between October 17-18, according to Sky News.
Ministers are planning to bring MPs in to Westminster on October 19 regardless of whether Boris Johnson is able to win agreement from EU leaders on a Brexit deal, government sources said.
The summit in Brussels on October 17 and 18 is the last scheduled meeting of EU leaders before Britain is supposed to leave on October 31.
This is the fifth time Parliament has sat on a Saturday since the Second World War.
Brexit news: Remain campaigners protest outside uropean Commission building in Brussels
8.41am update: Boris to tell Queen ‘you can’t sack me’
The PM is planning to tell the Queen she will not be able to sack him even if he loses a vote of no confidence as MPs step up their plans to oust him.
His refusal will be based on 70-year-old rules, the Lascelles Principles.
A Number 10 source told The Sun: “Boris won’t resign even if he loses a no confidence vote, and it is not within the sovereign’s constitutional powers to make him.
“The Lascelles Principles make this clear. The PM will advise the Queen of that and she must follow her Prime Minister’s advice. That’s how this country works.
“We said we will deliver Brexit by October 31 by all means necessary and we meant it”
8.24am update: Judges to rule on case asking PM for Brexit delay
Judges are expected to rule on a Brexit court case brought by campaigners who want an order forcing the Prime Minister to ask the EU for a delay if no Brexit deal is reached by October 19.
A panel of three senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh will also issue a ruling on whether a court can sign this Brexit extension letter on behalf of the government.
The requirement for the Prime Minister to request a Brexit extension if no withdrawal deal is secured with the EU by October 19 is a key provision of the so-called Benn Act, passed by MPs in a bid to prevent a no-deal departure.
Judge Lord Pentland ruled on Monday it was not necessary to compel the Prime Minister to comply with the terms of the Act given “unequivocal assurances” of Boris Johnson and the Government before the court, but campaigners have lodged an appeal against this decision.
Brexit latest: Britain is due to leave the EU on October 31
8.18am update: Ireland’s not trying to trap Northern Ireland in customs union
Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe rejected claims that Dublin is seeking to “trap” the UK with Brexit backstop arrangements.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of the charge that the Irish Government is looking to trap anybody in any kind of arrangement, that is absolutely not the case.”
7.51am update: Farage hits back at Merkel
The Brexit Party leader hit back on Twitter saying the choice was “now clear” for the UK after Merkel’s intervention.
He tweeted: “No British Government could ever accept Germany telling us that part of the UK has to stay in the EU.
“The choice now is clear: A clean break Brexit, or stay in a new militarised empire.
“Time to choose freedom.”
7.45am update: New Brexit deal ‘very difficult’
Leo Varadkar has warned Boris Johnson negotiating a new Brexit agreement by the crucial EU summit will be “very difficult” ahead of their talks to avert a no deal Brexit.
The Prime Minister’s chances of a breakthrough with Brussels were looking increasingly unlikely on Tuesday after accusations from Number 10 that the bloc was making it “essentially impossible” for Britain to leave with a deal.
Mr Johnson will hope to gain concessions from his Irish counterpart Mr Varadkar during in-person talks anticipated later this week.
But with the October 31 deadline rapidly closing in, the Taoiseach warned of the challenges of securing a new deal by next week – a key period in the Brexit saga with the summit in Brussels.
Mr Varadkar said Ireland and the EU would not accept an agreement at “any cost”.
He told RTE news: “There are some fundamental objectives that haven’t changed for the past three years and we need them guaranteed.
“I think it is going to be very difficult to secure an agreement by next week, quite frankly.
“Essentially what the United Kingdom has done is repudiate the deal that we negotiated in good faith with Prime Minister Theresa May’s government over two years and sort of put half of that now back on the table and are saying, ‘That’s a concession’. And of course it isn’t really.”