Tory rebels kicked out of the parliamentary party for voting to stop a no-deal Brexit last week have been offered an 'olive branch' by Bor
The Prime Minister last night told the Chief Whip to write to all MPs and set out the appeals process to restore the whip – after 21 were kicked out of the party for voting against Mr Johnson in the Commons.
A group including Philip Hammond, David Gauke and Ken Clarke as well as Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames were all stripped of the whip for backing a bill designed to prevent a No Deal exit.
The move prompted a furious backlash within the party, with Tory backbenchers accusing Mr Johnson’s chief strategist Dominic Cummings of overseeing a ‘Stalinist purge’ of the Conservatives.
This week Number 10 faced growing calls to change tack and allow the rebels back into the parliamentary party.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, are all said to have urged the Prime Minister to offer an ‘olive branch’ to the rebels, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House, and Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, are reported to have spoken out in favour of letting some MPs back.
Now, Mr Johnson has instructed the Chief Whip to write to the rebels on how to appeal the decision – in a move labelled a ‘ray of light’ by one senior party source. Although at least three different versions of the Chief Whip’s letter are thought to have been sent out, some more welcoming than others.
The Prime Minister (pictured last week outside Downing Street) last night told the Chief Whip to write to all MPs and set out the appeals process to restore the whip – after 21 were kicked out of the party for voting against Mr Johnson in the Commons
Among the MPs thought most likely to be reinstated are Stephen Hammond, the MP for Wimbledon, (right) and Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury (left)
Others touted for a return include Steve Brine, the MP for Winchester, (left) and Anne Milton, the MP for Guildford (right)
A government source said: ‘It’s not like they’re all one bloc. Some are fully off the reservation, while some want to have some path back – maybe by voting for the Government in the Queen’s Speech, or voting for a new deal.’
Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, is among the rebels to have received the letter, a spokesman for whom said: ‘The letter reads like an olive branch of sorts. If that is the tone that No 10 is taking, that is a welcome one.’
Among the MPs thought most likely to be reinstated are Steve Brine, Stephen Hammond, Anne Milton and Richard Benyon.
But despite the positive signs, Mr Johnson has been warned that backtracking on his decision to remove the whip from the rebels could spell even more trouble. There are fears Brexiteers could be angered by the move, causing problems with party discipline.
The MPs have been told to inform Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, of their intention to appeal.
Although of the 21 Tory MPs who were kicked out for voting against the Prime Minister, only ten are expected intended to stand again at a general election. The remaining 11 were already planning to stand down.
The news comes as an Edinburgh court decided that the Mr Johnson’s prorogation of parliament was unlawful because the Prime Minister’s intention had been to ‘stymy’ scrutiny of his Brexit policy – not to pave the way for a new legislative programme as he claimed.
Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, (pictured last week) is among the rebels to have received the letter, a spokesman for whom said: ‘The letter reads like an olive branch of sorts. If that is the tone that No 10 is taking, that is a welcome one’
The shock outcome in Edinburgh sets the stage for a titanic showdown at the Supreme Court in London on Tuesday – with the risk that the Queen will be dragged into the constitutional crisis.
Mr Johnson would need as many MPs on his side as possible – especially after the work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd resigned last week and earlier Tory MP Phillip Lee crossed the Commons to join the Liberal Democrats – should he have to reconvene parliament.
It also comes amid signs Mr Johnson will try and negotiate a Brexit deal over Northern Ireland, for which he will need as many votes from Tory MPs as possible.
Also last night, the Operation Yellowhammer documents revealing the Government’s No Deal Brexit Planning were released by Downing Street.
The newly released government dossier of ‘worst case planning assumptions’ says a no deal Brexit would lead to delays in medicine, illegal fishing boats, public disorder, delays at the border and rising food prices for those on the lowest incomes.
The newly released government dossier, features 20 ‘key planning assumptions’ and there is one which is partially redacted.
It reveals some very real concerns over a no deal exit including electricity price increases, delays to medicine imports and protests across the UK.
MPs voted by 311 to 302 in favour on Monday of telling Number 10 advisers to hand over WhatsApp, Facebook and text messages and for ministers to release their No Deal contingency plans in full.
The MPs, led by former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve, set a deadline for the material to be surrendered by 11pm yesterday.
But Downing Street refused a request to hand over the texts, emails, and WhatsApp messages of key advisers about the decision to suspend Parliament. Instead, it only released the document.