Thursday, May 19

PM Threatened With Leadership Challenge Over EU



David Cameron has reportedly been told that he will face a leadership challenge unless he tones down his attacks on Boris Johnson and other Out campaigners. Tory ministers and senior backbenchers have even threatened a “no confidence vote if the Prime Minister fails to halt “blue on blue” attacks on fellow Conservatives, according to the Sunday Times.

A senior backbencher told the newspaper they would have “no problem getting the 50 signatures needed to force a vote, adding: Cameron’s position will be untenable even if he wins the referendum if he carries on like this.

It comes after confirmation the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond swore at one leading Tory Eurosceptic in a row over a confidential EU document. Conservative divisions over the EU have deepened after Mr Hammond called a leading Eurosceptic a “total s***”.

Sky News understands the Foreign Office has referred Sir Bill Cash to the parliamentary authorities following an alleged “abuse” of House of Commons rules over his handling of a confidential EU document.

Sir Bill is a key figure in the Grassroots Out organisation, which is campaigning for the UK to leave the European Union.

The row between Philip Hammond – who is campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU – and Sir Bill Cash, a member of the Grassroots Out organisation, bubbled over after the Foreign Secretary appeared in front of the European Scrutiny Committee, which is chaired by Sir Bill.

Labour MP Kate Hoey confirmed to Sky News that she overheard Mr Hammond swearing at Bill Cash and saying “you deliberately ignored me”.

Mr Hammond was apparently angry that Sir Bill published a Brussels document confirming the Prime Minister’s deal was legally binding, after the Foreign Secretary had asked him to keep it confidential.

A Foreign Office source confirmed they will be referring the incident to parliamentary authorities, adding: “The legal advice in question confirms that the deal the Prime Minister secured is legally binding and irreversible.

“The wider issue is whether Parliamentary authorities may not look into the issue of a Committee breaching longstanding rules in place that allow for the Government to provide sought-after advice, in confidence, to better inform committees of Parliament.

“This is a process matter, not an issue of how the Government’s EU deal is legally binding, that has already been recognised.”