Three senior British Cabinet ministers suggested on Saturday they may break with Prime Minister Theresa May and back amendments to delay Brexit unless a deal is agreed to in the next week.
Their comments represent a serious Cabinet split ahead of a key week in Parliament and are seen as a warning to the hardline Brexit faction in the Conservative Party.
The ministers wrote in a Daily Mail article published on Saturday that Parliament will move to stop a “disastrous” no-deal Brexit unless there is a breakthrough very soon. They warn Brexit backers the project will be delayed unless a deal is worked out.
The three - Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Business Secretary Greg Clark and Justice Secretary David Gauke - say they want a deal to be reached in the coming days but are worried about opposition from other lawmakers.
“Too many of our parliamentary colleagues appear complacent about the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal,” the trio said.
“Economy will be damaged severely”
“Our economy will be damaged severely both in the short and long term. Costs will increase, businesses that rely on just-in-time supply chains will be severely disrupted, and investment will be discouraged.”
May has been steadfast in saying Britain will leave the EU on March 29. The three ministers say it would be preferable to seek an extension of the withdrawal process rather than to leave without a deal.
The group says trade with the EU will be hurt and that Britain’s trade with vital Asian partners will be damaged as well, as will national security because of a breach in data-sharing with European partners.
Business leaders have warned about the perils of a no-deal departure and the Cabinet ministers echo that now familiar theme.
Parliament will consider various Brexit options this week as May continues to seek concessions from her EU counterparts.
There have been no visible signs of progress in recent weeks.