Cabinet Members Plot May Ultimatum on Backstop, Telegraph Says

(Bloomberg) -- Five U.K. ministers who favor a clean break with Europe will demand that Prime Minister Theresa May return to Brussels and alter the EU withdrawal agreement as the price of their staying in the Cabinet, the Telegraph reported, citing a person close to one of the officials.

The ministers, including Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary, want May to renegotiate the “backstop” provision that avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, to give the U.K. the right to unilaterally withdraw from that portion of the accord, the paper said. Bloomberg News on Friday reported the five ministers were plotting to overhaul the deal May has reached, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The ministers are to meet this weekend -- perhaps Sunday evening -- to draft terms of the ultimatum they will give May, the Telegraph said. The group that includes Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and Liam Fox would quit if May didn’t agree within two weeks, it said.

A resignation by the five would increase the chances May will face a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons and she might be forced to step down.

The paper cited “a source close to Gove” for some of the information and didn’t specify sources in other cases.

The Telegraph said the five ministers also would confer with other possibly disgruntled Cabinet members, including Sajid Javid, Geoffrey Cox, Jeremy Hunt and Liz Truss, to seek more support for their demands.

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