In her first interview since returning to the cabinet, Amber Rudd has set the cat among the pigeons. Speaking on the Today programme this morning, the new Work and Pensions Secretary appeared to go off script as she talked about the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The former Remain campaigner said that Parliament ‘will stop No Deal’ if the deal is voted down as there ‘isn’t a majority in the House of Commons to allow that to take place’.
‘I don’t think we are looking at another referendum. I think what will happen is that people will take a careful look over the abyss and despite what people say the EU withdrawal agreement will get through.’
On the surface at least, it doesn’t appear to be a particularly helpful intervention. One of the messages Theresa May has been pressing on Remain-minded MPs is that they need to back her deal if they are to avoid a no deal Brexit. This message is particularly important when trying to win around the odd Labour MP. While Labour politicians are reluctant to back a Tory Brexit, they are more reluctant still to back a no deal Brexit which in their view would see the UK go over a cliff edge.
So, what is Rudd playing at? The interview does suggest that in her new role she will be more independently minded than back when she was a loyal home secretary to the point of fault. But that doesn’t mean she is speaking out of turn when it comes to the government line.