Theresa May loses minister amid furious backlash to her Brexit plans
Theresa May loses minister amid furious backlash to her Brexit plans
Theresa May's leadership is running out of road as ministers quit over her Brexit plan
20 November, 2018, 19:52
The beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May began to rebuild her splintered government Friday, replacing two Cabinet ministers who quit over her troubled Brexit plans and facing down demands that she resign.
May said "an intense week of negotiations" lay ahead to finalize the framework. "There is no better deal for this insane Brexit".
She said it was clear the European Union wants to punish Britain by imposing "conditions that are unacceptable to a large majority of the people in the United Kingdom and to members of the British Government".
More than two years after the United Kingdom voted by 52-48 percent to leave the European Union, it is still unclear how, on what terms or even if it will leave as planned on March 29, 2019.
"The prime minister has negotiated a botched, worst-of-all-worlds deal which is bad for Britain, leaving the country in an indefinite halfway house without a real say".
Even if May sees off such a challenge, she still has to get the deal approved by Parliament.
But Mrs May's de facto deputy David Lidington said she would "handsomely" win a confidence vote if one was triggered by Tory MPs.
Calling for the scrapping of the Northern Ireland backstop, he added: "We should massively accelerate our preparations to exit on World Trade Organisation terms, with a new Secretary of State responsible for all the cross-government work".
As Mrs May prepared to make a statement on the Brexit agreement to the House of Commons on Thursday, the precariousness of her position was underlined as a Brexit-backing Tory claimed that the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady may already have received the 48 MPs' letters needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in the leader.
May argues that abandoning the plan, with Britain's March 29 departure date just over four months away, could lead to Brexit being delayed or abandoned, or to a disorderly and economically damaging "no deal" Brexit.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the business leaders that his party would not countenance a no-deal Brexit but would also vote against May's Brexit blueprint.
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"I think that's what people voted for and that's what I'm delivering".
Luxembourg's foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said: "This deal that is now on the table is the best there is".
Five remaining Brexiteer cabinet members are now reportedly pressuring May to go back to the European Union to demand changes before a planned special summit in Brussels on November 25, when the 27 member states of the European Union are to vote on the deal.
Most contentious negotiating issues have been resolved, but Spain insisted at the Brussels meeting that it needed more clarity on how Gibraltar, the British territory at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, would be dealt with. Soon after, she appointed Stephen Barclay, formerly a health minister, as Brexit Secretary. The EU has signaled it could accept Britain extending the transition by up to two years from December 2020.
"The European Union has spun this out deliberately to try to use time against us", he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
May says any extension must be finished before the next United Kingdom election, scheduled for the first half of 2022. "Government policy is Government policy", she told LBC.
He added: 'The truth is that Brexit could end with a nightmare'. But some are unhappy with the immigration plans, which have yet to be revealed in detail.
Chief Whip Julian Smith has said he is confident the Government will get the support of Parliament for the deal.
Asked about the attacks directed at her, May said: "It doesn't distract me".
In Brussels, Austria's minister for Europe, Gernot Bluemel, struck a more melancholy tone.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could torpedo an agreement, thrusting the economy into a no-deal void that they say would weaken the West, spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
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