Brexit: Conservatives plot to oust UK PM Theresa May after disastrous week

  • May’s office is on standby for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister as early as Tuesday
  • Rebels seeking to oust May don’t yet have the required 48 lawmakers’ letters to trigger a contest
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 10:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 7:40pm

Seven leading Conservatives, including Boris Johnson, David Davis and Dominic Raab, are actively preparing campaigns to challenge Theresa May’s leadership, UK media reported, as she declared “no alternative” to her Brexit deal.

May is fighting to salvage her proposed Brexit agreement – and her job – after a tumultuous week in which four ministers resigned, MPs slammed the proposal and members of her own party tried to oust her.

But she insisted there was no better option on the table and any alternative plans would still not conjure up a solution to keeping open the border with the Irish Republic.

Writing in The Sun, May said there’s “no alternative plan on the table” to her deal with the EU, and rejection by parliament risks sending Britain “back to square one with all the division and uncertainty that comes with it”.

May’s office is on standby for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister as early as Tuesday, The Sunday Times reported.

At least 48 Conservative MPs are required to submit letters of no confidence in the party leader to trigger a vote, and 23 have publicly confirmed they had done so.

But a ComRes poll for The Sunday Mirror suggests that grass roots Conservatives are happy for May to stay on in Downing Street.

Seven in every 10 Tory voters want her to stay in the job.

May received the backing Friday of Michael Gove and Liam Fox, the last remaining pro-Brexit heavyweights in her cabinet.

Brexit backlash: how Theresa May could be ousted as PM

But the pair and three other cabinet Eurosceptics – Andrea Leadsom, Penny Mordaunt and Chris Grayling – were meeting over the weekend to try and force May to change her Brexit plans, the BBC and The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

Leadsom said there was still “more to be done” on the deal. She told Sky News earlier she’s “absolutely determined” to stay in the government to help the PM get a Brexit agreement.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell also pledged his support for May amid what he called the “unprecedented onslaught”.

Mundell said he has reservations about the draft deal but other alternatives were “even more unpalatable”.

“She is tackling an issue of epic proportions, on which she can never please everyone, and she is doing her very best to find a way through,” he said.

“If it comes to a confidence vote, she will have mine.”

The 585-page draft deal aims to ensure a smooth divorce from the EU after more than four decades of membership and outlines a transition period for both sides.

But MPs told May on Thursday that there was no chance of it securing majority support in parliament.

Eurosceptic MPs fear the deal would keep Britain shackled to Brussels long after Brexit on March 29, 2019.

EU supporters say it would leave the UK on worse terms than it has inside the bloc and are calling for a second Brexit referendum to break the logjam.

John McDonnell, Labour’s finance spokesman, suggested the main opposition party could negotiate a new withdrawal agreement before Britain leaves the EU on March 29.

He told Sky News there was support in parliament and in Europe for a “unity platform” that avoided a no-deal Brexit.

The Sunday Times also reported Britain’s army had been ordered to step up contingency plans to help police maintain public order in case of food and medicine shortages after a “no deal” Brexit, citing an unnamed “well-placed army source”.

Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, Reuters

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