A Cabinet minister is reportedly set to break ranks and come out in favour of Britain leaving the European Union within minutes of the prime minister announcing a deal with Brussels.
Were they to do so, they would defy David Cameron’s decision that ministers had to abide by collective responsibility until it was officially lifted at a Cabinet meeting after the talks.
It is believed the minister will make their declaration at a Grassroots Out rally in Westminster on Friday night – when the Prime Minister is due to fly back to Britain with details of a deal renegotiating Britain’s relationship with the EU.
Organisers would not name the minister, but told The Telegraph that the minister in question was not Home Secretary Theresa May, a known Eurosceptic.
Conservative MP Tom Pursglove, one of the organisers, told the newspaper it was “going to be a very symbolic event” that would convey why the prime minister’s deal “is not good enough.”
“We are talking to lots of colleagues about appearing at next week’s event,” he said. “I would be delighted if a Cabinet minister would be in a position to come along and speak.”
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
In is his final major speech before next week's meeting of EU leaders where he hopes to secure agreement for the renegotiation of the UK's membership, Mr Cameron is expected to spell out his case for reforming the EU in the German city of Hamburg.
The Prime Minister, who spoke to his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy on the phone before leaving for Germany, is keen to get a final deal in place in time for him to put the new terms of membership to the British public in a referendum in June.
It came as 130 Tory councillors urged him to admit his EU talks had failed.
Eurosceptic Tory MPs and newspapers have also branded the deal “thin gruel” and “a joke” while a poll conducted by Sky News found other two thirds of the public believe it is “bad for Britain”.
But last week the PM pledged “hand on heart” that he had achieved the renegotiation goals set out in his manifesto, but there are in fact substantial shortfalls – notably on a failure to totally ban EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits for four years.
The Conservatives have pledged to hold an EU referendum before the end of 2017 following the renegotiations, which were hoped to shore-up support for the UK remaining in Europe.
That referendum now looks likely to be held as early as this June.