Tory MPs are counting down the hours until Theresa May quits as she ‘barricades’ herself in Downing Street following Leadsom’s resignation, on the eve of the European elections that will see the party wiped out.
Mrs May was expected to reveal details of her departure tomorrow after ministers savaged her concessions to Labour over Brexit – but former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith has insisted: ‘The sofa is up against the door, she’s not leaving.’
Andrea Leadsom piled pressure on the Prime Minister by announcing her own resignation from the Cabinet last night. In a parting blast, the Commons Leader said she could not stomach the latest version of Mrs May’s Brexit deal, with its offer of a second referendum.
Other ministers are said to be ready to go too if the Prime Minister tries to cling to power after today’s European elections. The Tories are set to be decimated by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
It is understood that Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and David Mundell will use ministerial meetings with Mrs May today to warn that they also consider the Withdrawal Agreement Bill unacceptable in its current form.
Tory backbenchers were in uproar over Mrs May’s decision to seek Labour support in the hope of getting her deal through the House of Commons at the fourth attempt. At one stage yesterday, some aides believed she was on the verge of quitting on the spot – and even started preparations for a resignation statement.
A bleary-eyed Theresa May was driven away from Parliament after facing a brutal session of Brexit questions in the Commons chamber yesterday
In her letter to the Prime Minister Mrs Leadsom said a second referendum would be ‘dangerously divisive for the country’ and she could not support the concession
But chief whip Julian Smith later told the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs that Mrs May intended to campaign in today’s elections and would instead meet the group’s chairman Sir Graham Brady tomorrow to discuss its concerns. Mrs May refused to see rebel ministers yesterday afternoon, leading to accusations that she was bunkered down in No 10.
However sources said meetings with senior ministers were postponed because Mrs May was having her regular audience with the Queen, who she was expected to brief on her intentions. Whitehall insiders said the legislation that the Prime Minister announced on Tuesday might never now see the light of day.
She is said to have agreed to meet Sir Graham tomorrow to discuss arrangements for the election of a new Conservative Party leader.
An ally said: ‘The chances of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill coming forward now are very slender – there is too much opposition in Cabinet. That was her last move – she’s made her last move. I think she accepts that.’
Another said: ‘We completely understand what has happened over the course of the last 24 hours. She wants to be able to say that in her own words in short order. You will see that clearly when the elections are done.’
Conservative MP and leadership hopeful Boris Johnson arrives at his London home amid government turmoil yesterday
In other developments:
- Mrs May made a final bid to sell her deal to the Commons, telling a half full chamber that MPs would eventually have to accept compromise if they were to deliver on their ‘duty’ to take Britain out of the EU;
- The 1922 Committee reportedly held a secret ballot on changing rules to allow a fresh confidence vote in the leader;
- Michael Gove said Mrs May would have to ‘reflect’ on the backlash against her Brexit plans before deciding whether to continue with them;
- The number of Tory MPs saying they would vote against Mrs May’s ‘new deal’ doubled to 76 in the 24 hours after she announced the new package;
- Jeremy Corbyn ruled out backing the compromise plan, saying: ‘No Labour MP can vote for a deal on the promise of a Prime Minister who only has days left in her job’;
- Conservative MPs sent in letters of no confidence in Mrs May to Sir Graham, with former minister Tim Loughton even posting a picture of his on social media.
- Mr Duncan Smith warned that Donald Trump could cancel his planned state visit to the UK at the start of next month because of the chaos at the top of government;
- The Conservative Home website, seen as the ‘Bible’ of the party’s grassroots, urged supporters not to vote Tory in today’s elections unless Mrs May resigned immediately;
- Former chancellor Kenneth Clarke rounded on Eurosceptic MPs, saying they had treated Mrs May abominably and ‘campaigned harder against her leadership than against the EU’.
The Tory revolt came after ministers were briefed in detail on the proposed concessions to Labour, which also include the option of a temporary customs union. Several were aghast at provisions in the legislation guaranteeing an act of parliament to deliver a second referendum if MPs voted for one.
Mrs Leadsom announced her resignation letter posted on Twitter this evening
Sources told the Mail that Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt joined Mrs Leadsom, Mr Javid, Mr Hunt and Mr Mundell in warning No 10 they could not support the legislation in its current form.
One Cabinet minister said: ‘A lot of ministers are going to struggle to vote for this. I would certainly struggle with it as it is. It is opening the door to a second referendum – why would we do it?
‘We cannot put this to a vote – it would expose exactly how split the party is and make life even harder for her successor.
‘I don’t think anyone in Cabinet is ready to call for her to go. People still want her to make her own mind up and leave on her own terms. But there is a lot of pressure to pull the Bill – and that amounts to calling for her to resign.’
Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt will today urge Mrs May to pull the planned vote on the legislation, which No 10 said was still pencilled in for the first week of June.
Sources close to Mr Javid said the Home Secretary would demand that the Prime Minister strip out the provisions for a second referendum altogether before going ahead with the legislation.
Scottish Secretary Mr Mundell is also said to be unwilling to accept anything that opens the door to a second vote, arguing it would fuel demands for Scottish independence.
Mrs May also faced a backbench revolt yesterday, with MPs demanding that the 1922 Committee tear up its own rules to allow an immediate vote of confidence in the PM.
Page one of the reply from Prime Minister Theresa May to Andrea Leadsom after the Commons Leader resigned
Page two of the reply from Prime Minister Theresa May to Andrea Leadsom after the Commons Leader resigned
Sir Graham came under fire at a meeting of the committee after warning that a rule change would set a dangerous precedent. One MP accused him of ‘going native’. Another branded him a ‘jellyfish’.
With polls suggesting the Conservatives could get just 7 per cent of the vote today, calls for Mrs May to go extended beyond the Tory Eurosceptic wing.
Leading moderate Tom Tugendhat said Mrs May had ‘to go – and without delay’.
‘She must announce her resignation after the European elections. And the Conservative Party must fast track the leadership process to replace her,’ he added.
Amidst another day of government chaos a top Tory MEP also predicted the party’s candidates will be wiped out in today’s Euro elections.
In private messages, Daniel Hannan said the Conservatives will be left with no MEPs as voters flock to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
He also warned that the Tories faced ‘the end of our party’ and the election of a Corbyn government. His bleak assessment came as a poll showed the Tories could win just seven per cent of the vote. Mr Hannan, who represents the South East of England, made the comments on a WhatsApp group for Tory activists.
‘I am expecting us to end up with zero MEPs,’ he wrote. ‘Sadly it will give Corbyn unstoppable momentum and this, paradoxically, derail Brexit. Funny old world.’ In separate messages, he suggested the Tories could slip below 10 per cent when votes are counted.
‘If our members stay away, or vote for another party, we may well slip below 10 per cent – a level from which no party bounces back.
‘We’re looking, not just at a Corbyn government, but at the end of our party as a viable movement.’
The YouGov poll for the Times showed both main parties being hammered when the results are published on Sunday. It put the Brexit Party on 37 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 19 per cent and Labour on 13 per cent, just one point ahead of the Greens. The Tories were in fifth on seven points, just four ahead of Ukip.
In a sign of ebbing support among activists, the ConHome website urged Tory supporters to abstain rather than vote for the party unless Theresa May quits ahead of polling today.
A former civil service boss was accused of ditching Whitehall impartiality by announcing he would be voting for the Lib Dems today.
Lord (Gus) O’Donnell said it was his ‘civic duty’ to vote for the most consistently Remain party.
The former cabinet secretary rote in the Times that the clearest choice was ‘voting Liberal Democrat in England, so that’s what I will do’. He said: ‘I would urge all those who support remain to do the same. It feels very strange to be specifying a preference for a particular party.
‘However, as a crossbencher in the Lords, and faced with a decision that will affect generations to come, I believe it is my civic duty to vote and there is now no reason not to be clear about how I use this precious power that democracies bestow on their citizens.’
Tory MP Neil O’Brien said: ‘The trend of former senior civil servants getting involved in politics and particularly declaring their allegiance is going to be very bad for the civil service longer term.’
Yesterday another Conservative peer was suspended from the party whip for pledging to vote Liberal Democrat in the European elections.
Lord Cooper, the founder of pollster Populus who was David Cameron’s director of strategy in Downing Street, received the punishment two days after it was imposed on former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine.
He tweeted: ‘I have come to the same conclusion as Michael Heseltine, for exactly the same reasons – and will be voting Lib Dem in Thursday’s European parliament elections.’
Lord Cooper was subsequently told by his chief whip that ‘endorsing the candidates of another party is not compatible with taking the Conservative whip’.
Labour peer Lord Cashman said he had quit his party to vote Lib Dem.
The former EastEnders actor said: ‘I can’t trust Jeremy Corbyn or the people around him on the defining issue in postwar Britain, so on Thursday I will not be voting for the Labour party. As Matthew Parris said, I am not a Liberal Democrat, but I support their absolute consistency. Voting Lib Dem in the EU elections.’
Later he wrote: ‘I think I’ve just resigned from the Labour party by declaring that I will support the Liberal Democrats in the European elections.’
Mrs Leadsom was among members of the so-called ‘Pizza Club’ of Eurosceptic ministers who had met earlier to consider their next move as the Tory infighting escalated.
In her letter to the Prime Minister she said a second referendum would be ‘dangerously divisive for the country’ and she could not support the concession.
‘I stayed in Cabinet to shape and fight for Brexit,’ she said.
‘There have been some uncomfortable compromises along the way, but you have had my determined support and loyalty in your efforts to deliver Brexit as our shared goal.
‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result.’
She also appeared to hit out at Remain-supporting ministers, saying: ‘The tolerance to those in Cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the Government’s position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.’
The South Northamptonshire MP is now expected to be among those vying to replace Mrs May as Tory leader.
Explaining the timing of her decision to resign on the eve of polling day in the European elections, Mrs Leadsom said: ‘I considered carefully the timing of this decision, but I cannot fulfil my duty as Leader of the House tomorrow, to announce a Bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose.
‘I fully respect the integrity, resolution and determination that you have shown during your time as Prime Minister.
‘No one has wanted you to succeed more than I have, but I do now urge you to make the right decisions in the interests of the country, this Government and our party.’
A Downing Street spokesman said Mrs Leadsom had ‘served with distinction and great ability as a member of the government, and the Prime Minister is grateful for all of her work’.
‘We are disappointed that she has chosen to resign, and the Prime Minister remains focused on delivering the Brexit people voted for.’
Fellow Conservative Party MPs have described Andrea Leadsom’s decision to leave the Government due to its Brexit approach as ‘absolutely the right thing to do’, while a Labour MP wished her well.
Andrea Leadsom’s full resignation letter
Dear Prime Minister
I am proud to have served in your Government since 2016, first as your Environment Secretary and for the last two years as Leader of the House of Commons, and pay tribute to the excellent work of my civil servants in both roles.
More recently, setting up the new complaints procedure, putting in train the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, introducing Proxy Voting for MPs, proposing a new strategy to support early years, and ensuring the timely delivery of our legislative programme, my role as Leader of the Commons has been highly rewarding, and I am grateful to have had these opportunities.
I stayed in Cabinet to shape and fight for Brexit. There have been some uncomfortable compromises along the way, but you have had my determined support and loyalty in your efforts to deliver Brexit as our shared goal.
I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result, for the following reasons:
1. I do not believe that we will be a truly sovereign United Kingdom through the deal that is now proposed;
2. I have always maintained that a second referendum would be dangerously divisive, and I do not support the Government willingly facilitating such a concession. It would also risk undermining our Union which is something I passionately want to see strengthened;
3. There has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brexit-related legislative proposals have not been properly scrutinised or approved by Cabinet members;
4. The tolerance to those in Cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the Government’s position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.
I know there are important elections tomorrow, and many Conservatives have worked hard to support our excellent candidates. I considered carefully the timing of this decision, but I cannot fulfil my duty as Leader of the House tomorrow, to announce a Bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose.
I fully respect the integrity, resolution and determination that you have shown during your time as Prime Minister. No one has wanted you to succeed more than I have, but I do now urge you to make the right decisions in the interests of the country, this Government and our Party.
It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the Government.
Scottish Tory Ross Thomson tweeted: ‘Sad to see @andrealeadsom leave Government but absolutely the right thing to do.
‘This new Agreement breaks the last promise that was possible to break on a second EU referendum.’
Another Conservative MP, Chris Heaton-Harris, tweeted: ‘A great shame, but completely understandable.
‘Tomorrow she would have had to announce a Bill containing elements (2nd referendum and Customs Union) that she simply could not support in good faith.’
Meanwhile Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson criticised Mrs Leadsom’s decision to step down on the eve of the European elections, calling it a ‘slap in the face’ for her Tory colleagues.
He tweeted: ‘I accept that she may want to go but to do it the night before an election looks odd.
‘It’s also a slap in the face to Tory party members who are working hard to get their candidates elected tomorrow.’
Labour MP Jess Phillips said she liked Mrs Leadsom and commended her work in helping to introduce proxy voting for MPs.
‘I liked Leadsom she had our back in the complaints process and she was vital in the proxy voting,’ tweeted Ms Phillips.
‘I think she’s wrong about second referendum threatening the union and being divisive but I wish her well.’
In a statement posted to his party’s website, Labour chairman Ian Lavery said the resignation of Mrs Leadsom shows ‘the Prime Minister’s authority is shot and her time is up’.
‘While the Tories are ripping themselves apart, our country is in crisis. The Government has made a catastrophic mess of the Brexit negotiations, our steel industry is under threat and universal credit is pushing people into poverty.
‘For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election.’
Conservative MP Craig Tracey appeared to mock the situation as Theresa May lost a key member of her Cabinet.
‘Just heard Larry the Downing Street Cat is considering his position,’ he tweeted.
A Cabinet source had earlier said there was a growing consensus that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – known as WAB – should not be brought to the Commons. ‘The mood music in Cabinet is heading towards stopping it coming back,’ they told MailOnline.
Mr Javid has demanded a meeting with the PM to tell her the offer for MPs to get a vote on a second referendum must be dropped.
He is understood to be convinced that Mrs May went much further than was agreed by Cabinet when she made last night’s desperate speech designed to win support from Labour MPs.
Mr Hunt and Mr Mundell have also asked to see the premier – although she has yet to agree to meetings. The Scottish Secretary is furious that her referendum promise is a gift to the SNP, which is pushing for another independence ballot north of the border.
More junior ministers are also making clear they will not support the legislation if it does come to Parliament.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith joked that Mrs May had barricaded herself into No10. ‘The sofa is up against the door, she’s not leaving,’ he told reporters.
But Mrs May left Downing Street to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace – for their usual weekly meeting.
The Tory 1922 committee met this evening to consider changing party rules to allow an immediate confidence vote in her leadership.
Government chief whip Julian Smith joined the meeting deep inside Parliament for a few minutes – and emerged looking grim-faced.
Another possible leadership contender Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (left) leaves the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, today
But it later transpired that the committee’s executive, despite heavy pressure from Brexiteers, did not change its rules.
One Tory MP described the outcome of the 1922 Committee meeting as ‘the can kicked down until Friday’.
Another, Michael Fabricant, tweeted that there was ‘paralysis’, adding: ‘I wonder if there should be a vote of No Confidence in the 1922 Executive? Colleagues are growing impatient.’
After the meeting Sir Graham told reporters: ‘I will be meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday following her campaigning in the European elections tomorrow and following that meeting I will be consulting with the 1922 executive.’
He said the executive discussed ‘all sorts of things’ in the meeting.
The premier put on a show of defiance during a marathon appearance in the Commons this afternoon, insisting the text of her Brexit Bill would be published on Friday.
In a nod to the huge pressure she is under, Mrs May acknowledged that ‘in time another PM will stand at this despatch box’.
Mrs Leadsom was the second high-profile minister to leave the Government in recent weeks. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured today) was sacked at the start of May over a Huawei leak from a top-secret meeting
‘But while I am here I have a duty to be clear with the House about the facts. If we are going to deliver Brexit in this Parliament we are going to have to pass a Withdrawal Agreement Bill,’ she said.
‘Our job in this House is to take decisions, not duck them.’
However, key Brexiteers were glaringly absent from the chamber as she spoke. Ms Leadsom, Liz Truss and Liam Fox were nowhere to be seen initially, with the frontbench filled instead by loyalist Remainers. Mrs Leadsom arrived about 40 minutes into the session.
Mrs May’s position is looking increasingly untenable, with even her closest allies calling on her to pull the proposed Brexit vote in early June and resign.
One Cabinet source said they did not believe Mrs May would survive much longer.
‘There are a lot of meetings going on. People are considering their options,’ the source told MailOnline. ‘She might not make it another 24 hours, never mind until Monday.’
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have slumped to just seven per cent in a poll on the eve of the European elections – an astonishing 30 points behind Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Many MPs fear the party will suffer an unprecedented wipeout tomorrow – losing all its MEPs.
Key Brexiteers were glaringly absent from PMQs today amid claims ‘secret meetings’ are taking place to oust Mrs May
There were glum faces on the government front bench today as Mrs May vowed to press ahead with a vote on the Brexit Bill
Before tonight’s meeting the secretary of the 1922 committee, Nigel Evans, said: ‘She has U-turned on absolutely everything. We cannot put up with this any longer’.
As pressure ratcheted up, senior Tory backbencher Tom Tugendhat joined calls for Mrs May to quit – and said he wanted Mr Gove to take her place.
‘The moment has come when I’m afraid we need new leadership. It needs to be somebody who voted for Brexit, there are some excellent candidates out there,’ he told Sky News.
Another senior backbencher told MailOnline: ‘She needs to go and she needs to go soon – this week or next.’
A No10 source said Mrs May was not attending the 1922 meeting, and denied suggestions that she could make a resignation statement tonight.
Asked about gaps on the Tory benches at PMQs and statement, the source said: ‘The PM is working very hard with her colleagues on something that is important to people right across the Conservative Party which is delivering Brexit in line with our manifesto.’
Asked about resignation calls he said: ‘The Prime Minister is focused on the job in hand.’
Yesterday Mrs May took the gamble of offering MPs a binding vote on a second referendum – if they backed her withdrawal agreement at the fourth attempt.
But her speech was branded a ‘f***ing disaster’ by one minister with more than 65 Tory MPs set to vote against her deal next month – including u-turns from more than 30 who had voted for it last time – and Labour rebels also refusing to bail her out.
Many ministers are incandescent that Mrs May went further in her speech than what had been agreed by Cabinet, by suggesting the government would implement the legislation for a second referendum if MPs vote for one.
Today Environment Secretary Michael Gove avoided saying if the PM would be in post after next week and said the Cabinet will ‘reflect over next few days’ on whether the Brexit bill will definitely be voted on in the first week of June.
When asked if he could work with Boris Johnson – whom he fell out with in 2016 – he called the leadership favourite ‘a Conservative of flair, elan and intellect’ who ‘served as foreign secretary with distinction’.
With support for her deal collapsing Mrs May has made a final desperate attempt to get Labour support by writing to Jeremy Corbyn begging him to back her – but that also appears to have backfired.
The Labour leader’s Brexit negotiator Sir Keir Starmer said today: ‘The Prime Minister ought to now admit defeat and I think she would do well to just pull the vote and pause because this is going nowhere’.
Mrs May faced MPs after her latest Brexit deal offer was lambasted with several Brexiteer ministers deciding to stay away and meet privately instead
Michael Gove hinted that the vote on Mrs May’s deal could still be shelved and had warm words for leadership favourite Boris Johnson
Tim Loughton today tweeted a picture of his letter to Tory 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady calling for Mrs May to be sacked
Mr Gove refused to guarantee that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would come to the Commons in the week beginning June 3, as had previously been promised.
‘We will reflect over the course of the next few days on how people look at the proposition that has been put forward,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Tories slump to just 7 PER CENT in poll on the eve of European elections as Brexit Party surges to 37 per cent
The Tories have slumped to just 7 per cent on the eve of European elections – as a shock poll shows the Brexit Party surging further ahead.
As Theresa May’s leadership implodes, the Conservatives have dropped another three points over the past week – while Nigel Farage’s new outfit have gone up by two.
The YouGov reseach for the Times also paints a grim picture for Labour, which has slipped into third on just 13 per cent support – well behind the Lib Dems on 19 per cent and only just ahead of the Green on 12 per cent.
The dire figures underline the catastrophe facing Mrs May and the Tories when the results of the elections are declared on Sunday night and Monday morning.
Even loyalist Conservatives are deserting the PM as she comes under pressure to pull the plug on her Brexit deal and resign.
‘But there has to be a vote on a Withdrawal Agreement implementation bill.’
He added: ‘I think that, rather than saying anything precipitate, I think everyone should take an opportunity to reflect on what the PM will say later today and look at the Bill.’
Mr Gove told Today: ‘I think the most important thing we should do is reflect on all the options in front of us.
‘I can understand the strong feelings – I have strong feelings – on leaving the European Union that have been aired and articulated over the course of the last 24 hours.
‘I think it is also important that there is a period of reflection and a period of analysis as we look at what the Prime Minister has put forward.’
Asked about the 1922 Committee’s decisions on Mrs May’s future and whether she would still be Prime Minister next Tuesday, after the results of the European elections are clear, Mr Gove said: ‘I am a supporter of the Prime Minister, I voted for her in the last vote of confidence, I believe that she is working incredibly hard in a difficult situation in order to find a way through for this country, and she has my respect and support.
‘I think the Prime Minister will be Prime Minister next Tuesday, yes.’
In a letter to Mr Corbyn, Mrs May highlighted the tests he had set at the start of the failed process to reach a cross-party agreement, and insisted that the proposals would hold ‘for the remainder of this parliament’ – a reference to his concerns that her successor could unpick a deal.
She told him: ‘I have shown … that I am willing to compromise to deliver Brexit for the British people.
‘The WAB is our last chance to do so. I ask you to compromise too so that we can deliver what both our parties promised in our manifestos and restore faith in our politics.’
Theresa May leaves Downing Street ahead of a bruising in the Commons with her future as Tory leader in serious peril
Mr Corbyn said: ‘We will, of course, look seriously at the details of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill when it is published.
‘But we won’t back a repackaged version of the same old deal – and it’s clear that this weak and disintegrating government is unable to deliver on its own commitments.’
Mrs May’s Brexit deal is hanging by a thread after furious Tory MPs savaged her decision to open the door to a second referendum.
May loyalist tells MailOnline: ‘She needs to go NOW’
Even loyalist Tory MPs were turning on Mrs May today as her position looks increasingly untenable.
One plugged-in backbencher told MailOnline she had shown a political ‘tin ear’ and needed to accept that it was over. ‘We don’t need to do the beheading. We can just do the hanging, drawing and quartering, and go,’ they said.
‘Yesterday proved that while her heart is in the right place she is now incapable of articulating a vision. The way she dealt with the second referendum issue poured petrol on a fire that was slowly going down. It is now raging.
‘I think she needs to go and she needs to go soon – this week or next.’
The MP said that if the WAB was heavily defeated it would just make a ‘damaging’ No Deal more likely, as the new leader will find it harder to turn the situation around.
‘Let’s not waste this window with her hanging on,’ the MP added.
She pleaded with Parliament to finally approve her plan so Britain could avoid ‘a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics’.
Desperate to win over Labour MPs, she also suggested the agreement could be amended to include a temporary customs union. The move followed a fractious three-hour Cabinet meeting, in which at least two ministers are said to have hinted they might resign in protest at the concessions.
Boris Johnson, who voted for Mrs May’s deal at the third attempt, led the attacks on her latest offer, saying: ‘Now we are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum.
‘The Bill is directly against our manifesto – and I will not vote for it. We can and must do better – and deliver what the people voted for.’
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, who is lining up against Mr Johnson to succeed the PM, said he could not support legislation ‘that would be the vehicle for a second referendum or customs union’.
Mark Francois led hardline Eurosceptic MPs in insisting Mrs May’s concessions were ‘dead on arrival’. Some Tory MPs even called on the PM to quit immediately
Jeremy Corbyn initially said Labour would ‘look seriously’ at the proposals. But he later warned: ‘Theresa May’s new Brexit deal is a rehash of her old bad deal and Labour cannot support it.’
The Prime Minister appeared to be on course for a crushing three-figure defeat as MPs from almost all sides rejected her proposals, with Brexiteers branding it a ‘direct insult’ and a ‘dog’s breakfast’, while Labour and key Remainers said it did not go far enough.
As the problems for the premier deepened, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the DUP and more moderate Tories publicly declared that they will vote against the Bill – putting it on track for a crushing defeat.
Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith called for the Prime Minister to ‘go’, saying: ‘I supported the PM’s rotten deal last time as I felt we could then draw a line and select a new PM to pick up the pieces.
‘But I cannot support this convoluted mess.’
Theresa May’s ten pledges to woo MPs to vote for her deal
By Jack Doyle for the Daily Mail
Theresa May yesterday set out ten commitments in a last-ditch bid to win votes for her Brexit withdrawal agreement, including allowing a vote on a second referendum:
Avoid the backstop
Mrs May will enshrine in law a promise to try to find alternative arrangements designed to keep the Northern Ireland border open. This falls far short of the demands of Tory Brexiteers who want the backstop dropped entirely.
Keep Northern Ireland’s laws tied to Britain’s
A straight pitch to the Democratic Unionist Party which wants to limit, or stop entirely, divergence between the province and the mainland. A repeat of an earlier promise, it last night failed to satisfy the DUP.
MPs to set the agenda
Instead of the Government drawing up its plans for the next phase of the talks with the EU – the future trading arrangement – this ‘negotiating mandate’ will have to be approved by Parliament. Could help win over a small handful of Labour MPs at best.
Follow EU worker rights
Mrs May has promised a bill to ensure the UK adopts any employment laws passed by Brussels. This is a key Labour demand but Tory MPs fear extra red tape and pro-trade union laws.
Preserve EU green rules
Another offer to Labour that there will be no change in environmental protection after Brexit and a new green regulator. Doesn’t meet Labour’s demand that we follow all EU environment laws automatically and will alienate Tories who want the UK to set its own rules outside Brussels’ orbit.
Keep trade ‘frictionless’
Trying to mirror Labour’s demands, Mrs May has pledged to keep trade barriers as low as possible while leaving the single market and ending free movement. Hard to see how it wins over significant numbers of MPs.
Follow EU goods and agriculture rules
Even after Brexit, the UK would follow EU rules to keep trade flowing smoothly. A slightly firmer promise than before. Works for Labour MPs but, again, alienates Tory Brexiteers.
Customs plan options
MPs will be offered a choice between Mrs May’s proposal, which has many elements of a customs union but allows for trade deals, and a full customs union until the next election. Still the thorniest knot of the negotiations, and seemingly impossible to resolve.
Downing Street had repeatedly ruled out a second vote. Yesterday that position was ditched, with the PM saying the Withdrawal Bill will allow for a vote on a second national poll. Even making the offer enrages Tory MPs. If it passed the Conservative Party would implode.
Legally binding changes
A commitment to make changes to the political declaration – part of the deal with the EU – to make this offer a reality. She would then go back to the EU. However MPs would have to pass the Withdrawal Bill – and this already looks highly unlikely.
MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke, said: ‘I supported the Prime Minister in March as I thought it was our last chance to leave the EU.
‘That’s no longer the case and I’m afraid that this proposal is worse than before. This is not Brexit and I won’t be supporting it.’
Dominic Raab, a former Brexit secretary, who said: ‘I cannot support legislation that would be the vehicle for a second referendum or customs union. Either option would frustrate rather than deliver Brexit – and break our clear manifesto promises.’
In a string of social media messages and interviews, around two dozen of the Prime Minister’s backbenchers who had previously voted for her deal the last time, said they would no longer back her.
Even Tory loyalist Andrew Percy, who had led support for Mrs May’s deal on the backbenches, said he was no longer sure he could vote for it because of the promise to hold a vote on having a second referendum.
‘I’m frustrated,’ he told BBC News. ‘I voted for this deal three times, because I think it is the only way we will get out. I really am concerned about the proposed possibility of a second referendum.
‘People were told in the referendum, it was the final say on the matter for a generation – it would be implemented.’
However, several key Cabinet figures last night backed Mrs May’s offer.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd said: ‘The Prime Minister is doing everything she can to ensure we leave the EU in a way that protects jobs, security and the Union. I support her and urge colleagues to back the deal. Once passed, business investment and confidence will surge, building on strong national employment.’
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: ‘Britain needs a Brexit that feels like a compromise; one that everyone can live with. Theresa May’s new Brexit deal is a bold proposal and one I encourage all members of the House of Commons to get behind so we can settle this question once and for all.’
And International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was ‘crunch time.’
In the hastily-arranged address, Mrs May warned that this was the last chance to avoid ‘a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics’.
She said: ‘If MPs vote against the second reading of this Bill they are voting to stop Brexit.
‘If they do so the consequences could hardly be greater – reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water and what would we do then?’
Mrs May also delivered a stark message to Brexiteers that their hardline demands risked keeping the UK in the EU.
‘Some suggest leaving without a deal,’ she said.
‘But whatever you think of that outcome – Parliament has been clear it will do all it can to stop it.
‘If not no deal, then it would have to be a General Election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation – and no Brexit at all.’
But MailOnline understands she was forced to water down her offer after a ferocious Cabinet revolt over the idea of giving MPs a free vote on a referendum – something that would have made it much more likely to pass.
Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling apparently threatened to quit during a fraught two-hour session in Downing Street on Tuesday morning. No10 said whipping arrangements for the vote have yet to be decided.
But while Mrs May was still talking her own MPs were rejecting her deal. Tory Middlesbrough MP Simon Clarke said: ‘I supported the PM at MV3, to try to get us out on 29 March.
‘But this speech from the PM means there is no way I will support the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.’
Tory Brexiteers MPs could launch bid to oust Theresa May TODAY
Tory Brexiteer MPs could launch a bid to oust Theresa May today after her Brexitdeal compromise was blasted as ‘dead on arrival.’
In a dramatic gamble yesterday, the Prime Minister offered MPs a binding vote on a second EU poll – if they backed her withdrawal deal at the fourth attempt next month.
But her new 10-point compromise plan has been savaged by every group she was attempting to woo, including Labour, the DUP and Tory Brexiteers.
Tory backbenchers are now expected to try and force a confidence vote in the PM when the 1922 committee meet on Wednesday afternoon.
Nigel Evans, a staunch Brexiteer, told The Sun said: ‘She has U-turned on absolutely everything. We cannot put up with this any longer.
‘I will be asking my colleagues tomorrow to agree to a rule change so we can hold an immediate confidence vote if Theresa is not prepared to stand down now.’
Labour demands for a second referendum crashed efforts to get a cross-party compromise on Brexit last week.
Trying to win over Remainer MPs to her point of view, Mrs May said: ‘I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.
‘The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum and this must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.’
But Mrs May’s suggestion was dismissed as a ‘con trick’ by Labour MPs. The last time a whipped vote was held on a referendum, it was overwhelmingly defeated by 334 to 85 – and supporters do not believe the result would be different.
During the fraught Cabinet meeting earlier, MailOnline understands that chief whip Julian Smith warned the PM that she is staring down the barrel of defeat.
But she was prevented from making deeper concessions by objections from key Brexiteer ministers.
Mrs May told her team: ‘The Withdrawal Agreement is the vehicle which gets the UK out the EU and it is vital to find a way to get it over the line.’
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘Cabinet discussed the new deal which the Government will put before Parliament in order to seek to secure the UK’s exit from the EU.
‘The discussion included alternative arrangements, workers rights, environmental protections and further assurances, in particular the integrity of the UK in the unlikely event the backstop is required.’
From hard Brexiteers to Remainers, the race for No 10
Boris Johnson 5/2
Age: 54. Former Foreign Secretary. His support for Brexit was vital to Leave’s win.
Background: Known for being identified by just one name, Boris, for his show-off Classics references and for chaotic private life.
EXPERIENCE: Twice voted London mayor.
STRENGTH: Starry, charismatic and clever crowd-pleaser.
WEAKNESS: Bumbling foreign secretary. May struggle to win MPs’ support. A ‘Stop Boris’ campaign is likely.
VERDICT: Party grassroots love him
Dominic Raab 5/1
Age: 46. Former Brexit Secretary. Diehard Brexiteer.
Background: Son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938 and died of cancer when Raab was 12.
EXPERIENCE: Lasted only four months as Brexit Secretary. Voted against May in leadership confidence vote.
STRENGTH: Skilled debater who honed his skills as an adversarial lawyer with blue chip legal firm Linklaters.
WEAKNESS: Seen as too clever by half and lacking people skills.
VERDICT: In second place in ConservativeHome’s leadership league table.
Matt Hancock 16/1
Age: 40. Health Secretary. Arch Remainer.
Background: Father bought their council house. Ran his own computer software business before becoming Chancellor George Osborne’s chief of staff.
EXPERIENCE: Cabinet minister for only 18 months. Seen as a ‘coming man’.
STRENGTH: One of life’s Tiggers with ambition and enthusiasm to match his brainpower.
WEAKNESS: Never knowingly modest, he once foolishly likened himself to Churchill, Pitt and Disraeli.
VERDICT: Little known among Conservative Party members.
Amber Rudd 33/1
Age: 55. Work and Pensions Secretary. Remain cheerleader.
Background: Daughter of a Labour-supporting stockbroker and Tory-leaning JP.
EXPERIENCE: Became Home Secretary after just six years as an MP. Resigned over the Windrush scandal after inadvertently misleading MPs.
STRENGTH: Tough operator who was restored to Cabinet within six months.
WEAKNESS: Holds seat with majority of only 346. Headmisstressy manner but an accomplished performer.
VERDICT: Ninth in leadership league table.
Esther McVey 50/1
Age: 51. Former Welfare Secretary. An ardent Brexiteer.
Background: Spent the first two years of her life in foster care. Was a breakfast TV presenter before becoming a Tory MP on Merseyside.
EXPERIENCE: As welfare minister was viciously targeted by Labour.
STRENGTH: Tough and telegenic. Won plaudits with members for resigning from Cabinet over Brexit deal.
WEAKNESS: Some say she doesn’t have the intellectual fire power for top job.
VERDICT: Ranked 14th in league table.
Penny Mordaunt 20/1
Age: 46. International Development Secretary. Arch Brexiteer.
Background: Her mother died when she was a teenager. Cared for younger brother. EXPERIENCE: Was a magician’s assistant. Appeared in the reality TV show Splash!
STRENGTH: Only female MP to be a Royal Naval Reservist. Attended Lady Thatcher’s funeral in uniform.
WEAKNESS: Inexperienced, having been in Cabinet for less than two years. Has never run a major Whitehall department.
VERDICT: Edged up to 11th in ConservativeHome league table.
Andrea Leadsom 16/1
Age: 55. Leader of the Commons. Ardent Brexiteer.
Background: A former City trader. Mother of three.
EXPERIENCE: Struggled in her first Cabinet post, as Environment Secretary.
STRENGTH: Blossomed as Leader of the Commons, winning plaudits for taking on Speaker John Bercow.
WEAKNESS: Stood for leader in 2016 but made ill-considered comment comparing her experience as a mother to the childless Mrs May.
VERDICT: Has soared to the top of the ConservativeHome table of competent ministers.
Michael Gove 10/1
Age: 51. Environment Secretary. High priest of Brexiteers.
Background: Adopted son of a Scottish fish merchant.
EXPERIENCE: Figurehead for Leave during referendum campaign. Cabinet heavyweight who’s served as Education Secretary and Justice Secretary.
STRENGTH: Brilliant debater with razor sharp intellect.
WEAKNESS: Still suspected of having a disloyal gene after knifing Boris Johnson in last leadership contest.
VERDICT: Popular with the Tory members, who, crucially, will vote for the new leader.
Liz Truss 50/1
Age: 43 Chief Secretary to Treasury. Brexiteer.
Background: Raised by Left-wing parents and as a child was marched through the streets on anti-Thatcher protest shouting: ‘Maggie out!’
EXPERIENCE: Joint-author in 2012 of a controversial booklet, Britannia Unchained, which alleged ‘the British are among the worst idlers in the world’.
STRENGTH: A genuine free-marketeer.
WEAKNESS: Poor public speaker with a mixed ministerial record.
VERDICT: Only 15th in ConservativeHome leaders league table.
Sajid Javid 16/1
Age: 49. Home Secretary. Remainer who changed to Brexit after the referendum.
Background: Son of a bus driver who came to Britain from Pakistan with £1 in his pocket. Was head of credit trading at Deutsche Bank.
EXPERIENCE: Previously Culture and Business secretary, cracked down on union rights.
STRENGTH: An extraordinary rags-to-riches back story that we will hear more of during the leadership campaign.
WEAKNESS: Widely seen as a wooden and a poor speaker.
VERDICT: In 4th place in ConservativeHome league table.
Jeremy Hunt 10/1
Age: 52. Foreign Secretary
Background: Eldest son of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt. Married to a Chinese wife and he speaks Mandarin.
Before politics, set up an educational publisher which was sold for £30million in 2017.
EXPERIENCE: Longest-serving health secretary in history.
STRENGTH: Among the most experienced ministers in the field who, unusually, has made few political enemies.
WEAKNESS: Some, though, regard him as a ‘bit of a drip’.
Verdict: Seen by many as man who could best unite party on Brexit.
Furious Leave supporter shouts ‘snowflake’ and ‘traitor’ at Tory Brexiteer during TV interview
A Conservative Brexiteer was blasted as a ‘snowflake’ and a traitor in an astonishing bust-up with a Leave supporter just yards from Parliament.
Monmouth MP David TC Davies was trying to do an interview with the BBC when a woman with a microphone and loudspeaker approached the crew and began filming them.
In the footage, the woman has no idea who he is and asks if he is a ‘remoaner’ before calling him a ‘traitor’ when he tells her he is pro-Brexit but voted for Theresa May’s deal.
She also accuses him of acting like a ‘snowflake’ when he criticised her actions while she spoke to BBC Wales about a rise in abuse against MPs.
‘You are a liar. You did not vote to leave,’ she says.
‘Shame on you. You’re a traitor,’ she adds.
‘You should feel uncomfortable. You’ve betrayed 17.4 million people.’
Speaking to the camera, Mr Davies, who has started wearing a body camera to and from Parliament in response to intimidation, says: ‘And that’s what you put up with when you’re out here all the time.’
He was doing the interview in College Green, a regular site for television interviews across the road from the Houses of Parliament.
In their confrontation the woman accused Mr Davies of ‘not acting like a Brexiteer’.
He then tore into her, saying: ‘I campaigned for Brexit. Where were you?
‘Where were you people when I was out campaigning for Brexit? You were nowhere, you were behind your keyboards and now you’ve come out. You are not a Brexiteer.
‘I actually was campaigning for Brexit and have been for years so I don’t need to be given lectures by people like you.’
Boris Johnson scrambles to ease Tory fears about his hard Brexit plans amid claims allies could SUE MPs if they block him from leadership battle
Boris Johnson (pictured campaigning in London last week) is scrambling to ease Tory moderate fears about his hard Brexit plans
Boris Johnson is scrambling to ease Tory moderate fears about his hard Brexit plans as the battle to succeed Theresa May heats up.
The former foreign secretary hailed a set of ‘One Nation Conservative’ principles drawn up by dozens of moderate MPs, insisting on Twitter: ‘Agree with all of this.’
The intervention comes as a ‘Stop Boris’ campaign gathers pace in the Parliamentary party, with many MPs concerned that he would shift the Tories dramatically to the right.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd – a key Remainer in the Cabinet – fuelled talk of a ‘dream ticket’ alliance with Mr Johnson by liking his tweet.
A source in the One Nation Tory bloc told the BBC’s Newsnight: ‘We want candidates to work with us to shape policy moving forward. Not just on Brexit but on everything.
‘The whole contest will be a big test for Boris to prove he actually can unite the party in the way he says he can.’
Boris Johnson hailed a set of ‘One Nation Conservative’ principles drawn up by dozens of moderate MPs, insisting on Twitter: ‘Agree with all of this.’
Mr Johnson prospects could also have been boosted by a poll of Labour activists suggesting he is the opponent they most fear at the next election
Mr Johnson prospects could also have been boosted by a poll of Labour activists suggesting he is the opponent they most fear at the next election.
However, the rising Tory tensions were underlined by claims that allies of Mr Johnson are ready to launch a legal challenge if MPs block him from the final ballot.
Under the contest’s rules, MPs whittle the candidates down to two, with activists choosing the winner.
But an ally of Mr Johnson told the Sun: ‘We have legal advice that was drawn up for Boris that proves if members want a chance to vote on him in big numbers, MPs and CCHQ cannot stop that.’
Aides to Mr Johnson denied any knowledge of the legal advice, saying it was ‘total nonsense’.
Around 60 Tory MPs have signed up to the One Nation principles, which were drawn up by Mrs May’s former policy chief George Freeman.