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Brexit: Almost 20 government ministers ‘meeting in secret’ to discuss plans to avoid no deal, reports say

Indy 100 logo Indy 100 24/01/2019 Shehab Khan
Amber Rudd standing in front of a door © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Nineteen ministers have been meeting in secret to discuss plans to stop Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, it has been reported.

Senior figures in the cabinet, including Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond, Greg Clark and David Gauke, are all believed to be among the ministers who have been attending the fortnightly meetings aimed at formulating the best approach to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

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Discussions included the best strategy in dealing with the amendments that attempt to block the scenario where the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal, The Telegraph reports.

"The group is united around opposition to no deal and doing everything in our power to stop it. We are not tied to Cooper and Boles but we are intent on finding a way to stop it and stop it as soon as possible,” one attendee told the newspaper.

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Earlier in the week Ms Rudd had apparently told Downing Street that up to 40 government ministers could resign if MPs are now allowed to vote to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

The work and pensions secretary reportedly urged Theresa May to give Tory MPs a free vote on the motion.

The latest revelation comes as leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg urged Theresa May to suspend parliament if MPs attempt to thwart a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Rees-Mogg told a meeting of the Bruges Group of Tory Eurosceptics that the efforts by backbenchers to drive parliamentary business were a “constitutional outrage”.

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“If the House of Commons undermines our basic constitutional conventions then the executive is entitled to use other vestigial constitutional means to stop it,” he said.

“By which I basically mean prorogation ... And I think that would be the government’s answer, that is the government’s backstop, to use a choice phrase.”

Prorogation is the time between the end of a parliamentary session and the state opening that marks the beginning of the next session.

Under these circumstances, any pending legislation would fall, including amendments such as that tabled by Yvette Cooper, that would prevent a no-deal.

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