London, Sep 2 (IANS) Several former British cabinet ministers, also known as Brexit rebels among Tory members of parliament, are expected to have a showdown meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, the beginning of a pivotal week for the country’s politics.
The planned meeting was announced at a time when the former justice secretary David Gauke said Sunday he believed the national interest would come first if he faced deselection for opposing a no-deal Brexit, Xinhua news agency reported.
Gauke said he hoped Johnson would not follow through with reported threats that any Conservative member of parliament who voted against the government next week would face deselection at the next election.
“Sometimes there is a point where … you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest. And the national interest has to come first,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge.
Gauke is one of several ministers who resigned from the cabinet after Johnson became prime minister and is among a number of ex-cabinet ministers who will back moves in parliament next week to legislate against no deal.
Philip Hammond, former chancellor of the exchequer, is reported to be among the Brexit rebels to meet with the prime minister, ahead of parliament’s return on Tuesday.
Hammond had previously said plans to withdraw the whip from Conservative members of parliament if they vote against the government’s policy on Brexit were “staggeringly hypocritical” given that eight members of the current cabinet had defied the party whip this year.
A cross-party alliance of members of parliament opposed to no deal are expected to begin moves on Tuesday to table a bill mandating Johnson to ask the European Union (EU) for a further extension to the UK’s EU membership.
Also on Sunday, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier insisted in his article published in the London-based Sunday Telegraph that the Irish border backstop must stay, meaning his rejection of Johnson’s request to the EU that the backstop arrangement must be ditched if a no-deal Brexit was to be avoided.
Johnson, who vowed to take his country out of the EU on Oct 31 with or without a deal, has demanded that the backstop, a Brussels-insisted mechanism to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland, must go as part of a new Brexit deal.
Members of parliament will return to Westminster on Tuesday after their long summer recess, with an attempt expected to be made to win support for legislation to prevent UK from leaving the EU on deadline date, Oct 31, unless there is a deal in place with Brussels.
Thousands of demonstrators on Saturday took to the streets across Britain in protest against the prime minister’s decision to suspend parliament.
Protesters gathered in dozens of locations around the country including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton, Swansea, Bristol and Liverpool.
Further mass demonstrations are expected in Britain when members of parliament return to Westminster on Tuesday.