Theresa May was rocked by the resignation of a pro-Brexit Tory MP over “irreconcilable policy differences” as she attempted to reassure European leaders Britain’s withdrawal from the EU remained on track.
Stephen Phillips announced he was quitting as the Prime Minister called European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stress her Brexit timetable remained unchanged - despite the High Court ruling which threatened to throw her plans into turmoil.
The judges’ decision that Mrs May must get parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to launch BrexiMatt, has prompted calls for an emergency general election to settle the question.
The UK Government says it does not accept the court’s judgment and is “confident” of victory in an appeal to the Supreme Court.
A No 10 spokesman said Mrs May told European leaders the Government has strong lega arguments ahead of the case which will be moving to the Supreme Court next month and how Brexit is on track to be tiggered in April.
It emerged yesterday that a former member of Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet voted for Brexit and that other SNP MSPs did the same.
Alex Neil, who stepped down as social justice secretary in May, said the Scottish Government’s drive to be “run by Brussels” risked alienating him and others in the SNP.
He said he decided 10 days before the 23 June poll to back Brexit and added that he was “not in the game” of putting a number on the amount of SNP politicians that backed his stance.
Mr Neil, also an ex-health secretary, said: “There are 63 members of the Scottish parliamentary group, I’ve only talked to one or two people who have told me that. They’d approached me.
“I’m not in the game of having numbers or names or anything like that. If anyone else wants to say publicly that they voted leave, that was a matter for them.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the news of Mr Neil’s Leave vote did not come “as any surprise”.
She said: “He’s entitled to his view...but the fact of the matter is Scotland voted to remain. 62% of people who voted in Scotland voted to remain.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins called on those SNP MSPs who backed Brexit to “show some gumption” and come forward.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Mr Neil’s stance was no real surprise “considering the First Minister kept telling supporters we’d have another independence referendum if the UK voted