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No-deal Brexit: Julian Smith among ministers on 'resignation watch'

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith (David Young/PA)
Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith (David Young/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith is one of a number of government ministers on a "resignation watch list" over the threat of a no-deal Brexit.

The Times has reported that Boris Johnson is facing a cabinet rebellion over the prospect of no-deal, with Downing Street bracing itself for further resignations.

There was speculation Mr Smith could follow Amber Rudd in quitting last month, however he said at the time that such reports were "wide of the mark".

The Secretary of State was only appointed to the role in July, replacing Karen Bradley.

Nicky Morgan, Robert Buckland, Matt Hancock and Geoffrey Cox are also understood to be considering leaving the government over the issue.

It comes after a cabinet meeting in which the PM was warned that returning direct rule to Northern Ireland would be a "grave" risk in the current political climate.

Following the meeting Mr Smith raised concerns around a memo which suggested that the UK could end security co-operation with EU member states if they support a Brexit delay.

“Any threat on withdrawing security co-operation with Ireland is unacceptable,” he tweeted.

Secretary of State for Justice Mr Buckland backed Mr Smith, saying that he had "grave concerns" about the reintroduction of direct rule

"Cabinet will set the strategy, not unelected officials. If this is an attempt to do that then it will fail. We are not a cabinet of sock puppets and nodding dogs.” one minister told the Times.

Another minister said that a "very large number" of Conservative MPs would quit if Mr Johnson used a no-deal Brexit as part of his election campaign strategy.

The minister said MPs would find it "very hard" to stay in a party using a no-deal Brexit as a key policy.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox reportedly told the Prime Minister he would quit if the Prime Minister did not request an extension after failing to agree a Brexit deal.

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