Philip Hammond has warned that MPs will topple any new Tory prime minister trying to force through a no-deal Brexit – and sensationally threatened to join the revolt himself.
The chancellor refused – three times – to rule out joining the no-confidence vote that Labour has vowed to table if a hardline Brexiteer succeeds Theresa May.
Mr Hammond said any new leader trying to “push through a no-deal exit on 31 October” would immediately face the prospect of having to “leave office”.
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“It would be very difficult for the prime minister who adopted no-deal as a policy to retain the confidence of the House of Commons,” he said – just minutes after Dominic Raab made that exact threat.
Asked if he would support a no-confidence motion, Mr Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr it was “hypothetical”, pointing out he had never voted against his party in 22 years.
But he added: “I don’t want to start now having to contemplate such a course of action.”
The warning follows Boris Johnson’s threat to carry out a crash-out Brexit in the autumn in October, if necessary, which rival Tory candidates have quickly copied.
The chancellor dismissed their claims of trying to renegotiate a better deal before than as “a figleaf”, pointing out there would be no time, even if the EU was willing.
“The EU will not renegotiate the withdrawal agreement – I’m quite clear about that. They wouldn’t be able to because of their own political fragility,” he said.
Mr Hammond added: “In fact, the negotiation is a figleaf to do what is in fact a policy of leaving on no-deal terms.”
And he warned: “A prime minister who ignores parliament cannot expect to survive very long.”