May warns rebels as party plotters edge closer to triggering trust vote

May warns rebels as party plotters edge closer to triggering trust vote

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LONDON: Defiant British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday warned her Conservative Party rebel MPs that overthrowing her as leader would only make negotiation process with the European Union tough over the future of Britain’s relationship with the bloc after Brexit.

Britain is facing a political crisis after this week’s announcement about the Withdrawal Agreement struck with the 28-member European Union. Two Cabinet ministers and several junior government members have quit the May Cabinet and some of her party MPs have submitted letters of no-confidence. May could face a no-confidence vote if at least 15% of her party lawmakers — meaning 48 MPs — submit letters saying she has lost their support.

According to reports, the party’s influential 1922 Committee is edging closer to the 48-MP mark that is needed to trigger a leadership contest.

But May vowed to fight on for what she believes is the best deal possible. “Politics is a tough business and I’ve been in it for a long time,” she said during an TV interview on Sunday, adding that the next seven days “are going to be critical” for the future of the UK and that she will be travelling to Brussels to meet with EU leaders before an emergency European Council summit on November 25.

Asked whether Graham Brady, Chair of the backbench 1922 Committee, had hit the 48-letter mark from her party MPs needed to trigger a noconfidence vote in her leadership, she replied: “As far as I know, no — it has not.”

“It is not going to make the negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic,” she said.

The 585-page withdrawal agreement deal between London and the EU triggered resignations from the Cabinet including that of her Brexit secretary Dominic Raab.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the former minister launched an attack on May’s handling of the negotiations and called on her to stand up to bullies in the EU.

“If we cannot close this deal on reasonable terms, we need to be very honest with the country that we will not be bribed and blackmailed or bullied and we will walk away,” wrote Raab, who is seen as one of the contenders for the post of PM if May is ousted. “I think there is one thing that is missing and that is political will and resolve. I am not sure that message has ever landed,” he said.

Steve Baker, another former minister in the department for exiting the EU who had resigned earlier, is reportedly coordinating the latest coup against May and claims that more than 50 MPs are ready with no-confidence letters, making a contest likely next week. Indian-origin Brexiteer MP, Suella Fernandes Braverman, who quit the Brexit department as a junior minister along with her boss Raab last week, revealed that the draft withdrawal agreement issued by Downing Street contains clauses the two ministers had never previously seen and says the document will be seen for generations as a betrayal.

“It has been forged, not by those who have a political pulse, but by those who are risk-averse, pro-Remain and do not want Brexit to happen,” she wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

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