British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing a new rebellion from his cabinet over concerns of a no-deal Brexit, with a group of cabinet ministers poised to resign, The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan, British Minister for Northern Ireland Julian Smith, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, Health Minister Matt Hancock and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox are all on a “resignation watch list”, according to The Times report.
An unnamed cabinet minister cited by the newspaper said that a “very large number” of Conservative members of parliament would also quit if it came to a no-deal Brexit.
The Times said that ministers had warned Johnson in a cabinet meeting about the “grave” risk of the return of direct rule in Northern Ireland and raised concerns about Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s most senior adviser.
“Cabinet will set the strategy, not unelected officials. If this is an attempt to do that then it will fail”, the report quoted another cabinet minister as saying.
Meanwhile, Irish leader Leo Varadkar told Irish broadcaster “big gaps” remained between the two sides.
It will be “very difficult” for the UK and the EU to reach a Brexit agreement before the 31 October deadline, he said.
Amid claims on Tuesday that talks were close to collapse, he also suggested the language around the discussions had turned toxic “in some quarters”.
Mr Varadkar and Boris Johnson are expected to meet for further Brexit talks later this week.
The UK has said the EU needs to “move quickly” to stop it leaving without an agreement at the end of the month.