Boris Johnson is threatening to sack rebel Tory MPs who vote to block a no-deal Brexit, it has been claimed.
The prime minister aims to ban Remain MPs within his party from standing at the next general election if they make moves to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
According to The Sun, a vote in the House of Commons next week will be seen as a no-confidence vote by the PM, with rebel Tories disqualified from contesting their seats if they take part.
Ministers supporting the PM have called a cross-party alliance of MPs seeking to prevent a no-deal Brexit as ‘deceitful and underhand’.
Tory heavyweight Philip Hammond said barring MPs from standing in a snap general election would be ‘staggeringly hypocritical’.
In his first newspaper interview since becoming Prime Minister in July, Mr Johnson told the Sunday Times: ‘I just say to everybody in the country, including everyone in parliament, the fundamental choice is this: are you going to side with Jeremy Corbyn and those who want to cancel the referendum?
‘Are you going to side with those who want to scrub the democratic verdict of the people – and plunge this country into chaos.’
A Commons clash is expected on Tuesday when opponents of no-deal look set to try and seize control of the parliamentary agenda to push through legislation that would force a delay to the Brexit deadline 31 October.
Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg strongly attacked such an action, writing in the Mail on Sunday: ‘They dare not use the confidence procedures because they know that Jeremy Corbyn is too unpopular, and therefore they seek deceitful ends by underhand means.’
Ex-chancellor Mr Hammond tweeted in response to the news MPs could be stopped from contesting their seats: ‘If true, this would be staggeringly hypocritical: 8 members of the current cabinet have defied the party whip this year.
‘I want to honour our 2017 manifesto which promised a “smooth and orderly” exit and a “deep and special partnership” with the EU.
‘Not an undemocratic No Deal.’
A Government spokesperson said: ‘All options for party management are under consideration, but first and foremost the PM hopes MPs will deliver on the referendum result and back him on Parliament.’
Some 20 Tory former ministers are considering standing at the next election as independent Conservatives rather than back a no-deal option, the Sunday Times said.
The news came as the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator rejected the PM’s demands for the Irish backstop to be scrapped.
Michel Barnier said the backstop included in the current withdrawal agreement created by Theresa May was the ‘maximum flexibility’ the EU could offer.
The backstop is intended to avoid a hard border between Ireland – which will remain in the EU – and Northern Ireland – which will leave the EU along with the rest of the UK on October 31.
If implemented, it would see Northern Ireland staying aligned to some rules of the EU single market, should the UK and the EU not agree a trade deal after Brexit.
Mr Johnson has previously told the EU the arrangement must be ditched if a no-deal Brexit was to be avoided – citing it as the reason Mrs May’s deal has been rejected by parliament three times.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Barnier said: ‘On the EU side, we had intense discussions with EU member states on the need to guarantee the integrity of the EU’s single market, while keeping that border fully open.
‘In this sense, the backstop is the maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state.’
He also said he was ‘not optimistic’ about avoiding a no-deal Brexit, but ‘we should all continue to work with determination’.
Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated against Mr Johnson’s plans to suspend Parliament for up to five weeks in a move to prevent MPs from blocking no-deal.
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