Warm beer and the ‘existential’ Brexit threat to UK Tories

CHORLEYWOOD, England — It’s Friday and the lord high chancellor and keeper of the great seal of the realm is at home with his kids. “I’ve booked a pub up the road if that’s alright,” he says, letting me in to the front porch after I arrive 10 minutes late for our noon lunch. Football boots and walking shoes poke out beneath the coats.

“Bye boys,” he calls into the house as he pulls the door shut.

David Gauke, the U.K. justice secretary, leads the way to The Rose & Crown, five minutes up the road, past the train station on the edge of the village common. We’re just an hour from Westminster, but a world away.

On the face of it, Gauke, 47, appears a perfect fit for his wealthy suburban seat: a Thatcherite Tory who, like his constituency, backed Remain. He is economically conservative but socially liberal — somewhere en route to urbane.

And yet, he finds himself in the eye of the Brexit storm, facing a vote of no-confidence from his local constituency party over his public opposition to no deal. Gauke is one of three Cabinet ministers, along with Greg Clarke and Amber Rudd, who all-but threatened to resign if Theresa May pursued a crashout exit on March 29 — a position he continues to hold. In the Tory ferment over Brexit, this may prove an unforgivable sin.

Gauke is backing Rory Stewart for leader, an outside bet who is currently international development secretary.

Gauke is a fierce opponent of no deal, but also of no Brexit: a moderate in politics and life. His conversation is rolling and wry,

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