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UK PM faces ministerial resignations threat over Brexit

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British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the press during the first joint European Union and Arab League summit at the International Congress Centre in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Prime Minister Theresa May faced the threat Tuesday of more ministerial resignations over her refusal to rule out the possibility of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal on March 29.

Three junior ministers penned a letter in the Daily Mail urging May to delay Brexit if she fails to win concessions from Brussels over the withdrawal terms.

The warning comes after three more senior ministers published a similar letter over the weekend.

“We implore the government to take that step this week,” the ministers said in Tuesday’s letter.

“All of us were agreed that we couldn’t be part of a government that allowed the country to leave the EU without a deal,” one of the three, culture and media minister Margot James, told BBC radio.

“As D-day approaches, I think we felt honour-bound to actually do something to help prevent such catastrophe.”

The letter was also signed by business minister Richard Harrington and energy minister Claire Perry.

“We must act immediately to ensure that we are not swept over the precipice on March 29,” they wrote.

“The way to do that is to seek a short extension to Article 50 to allow the negotiations to be completed, the legislation to pass and for the panic that businesses face to subside.”

The Daily Mail said 23 Conservative “dissidents” secretly met on Monday to plot strategy.

‘Free debate’
It said that as many as 15 ministers were “said to be ready to resign”.

May’s effective number two David Lidington told BBC radio that the British leader would hold a “free debate” with her cabinet members before addressing parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

But he refused to confirm multiple British newspaper reports saying May would propose a short Brexit date extension if her EU divorce deal fails to win parliamentary backing by March 12.

May has repeatedly pushed back another vote on her EU divorce deal after her first attempt to get it through parliament suffered a record defeat on January 15.

“I am not going to predict what the PM will say later today,” Lidington said.

The rebel ministers are all backing a proposed parliamentary amendment that would force May to set a new Brexit date if she fails to get better terms on the disputed issue of the Irish border.

“The colleagues you talk about are good colleagues, effective ministers, and I think it’s important that the Tory party remains a broad church,” Lidington said when asked if the ministers who backed the delay amendment could be dismissed.


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