May granted extra week amid demands for her exit timetable

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May granted extra week amid demands for her exit timetable

 


Grilling: Theresa May faced tough questions from MPs in her own party during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Photo: PA
Grilling: Theresa May faced tough questions from MPs in her own party during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. Photo: PA

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has dodged backbench demands for her departure timetable.

Tory backbenchers on the 1922 Committee had demanded she set out precise dates for when she would make way for another leader of the Conservative Party.

Mrs May had met 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady privately on Tuesday night, and he was expected to share their discussion with Tory MPs last night.

But Brexiteer MPs emerged grim-faced from the meeting, where it emerged the prime minister persuaded colleagues to allow her to kick the can down the road for another week – despite disastrous local election results.

Leaving the meeting, Mr Brady suggested the delay was to allow Mrs May one last push to get her Brexit deal through Parliament before the European elections, which are expected to be another brutal defeat for Conservative candidates.

He said: “The executive is very keen to meet the prime minister and will have a full opportunity to discuss and to reach whatever conclusions it wishes to reach next week.

“It’s my understanding it’s the government’s intention to bring a second reading of the bill forward in the near future, certainly the intention is before the European election takes place.

“Personally, I hope the bill will be brought forward in a form which contains elements of the political declaration brought forward that would obviate the need ever for the Irish backstop to apply.”

He would not confirm if he was seeking a departure date from Mrs May at the meeting next Wednesday.

But the Tory MP indicated the Withdrawal Agreement Bill could be brought back next week when he said he expected it “hopefully in the much nearer future” than the elections on May 23.

Leaving the 1922 meeting, Brexiteer MP Nadine Dorries expressed impatience.

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“She’s not given any decision, there’s no timetable and they need to get on with it,” she said. “We need to make sure we get that final decision soon because everybody needs it.”

Conservative MP Alberto Costa said the 1922 Committee chairman expected Mrs May to leave once she got her Brexit deal through Parliament.

“The prime minister has been very clear she will step down as soon as the Withdrawal Agreement is passed,” he said.

“My understanding is that in respect of the request Graham Brady made two weeks ago… he expects to be given an assurance that her Withdrawal Agreement will once again go before Parliament.”

Tory MP Simon Hart said backbenchers were resigned to the idea a leadership change would not solve the problems with the current Brexit deal.

“This would be all very well as a temporary pain relief measure,” he said.

“But if it doesn’t actually change the prospects of delivering an orderly Brexit, then we could be about to go through quite an agonising process to replace the prime minister with a keen and enthusiastic new person who is then going to come up against exactly the same problem as the current one.

“It would be much better if the current prime minister finishes this horrible stage of the process and then they can do the easy bit.”

Meanwhile, Mrs May’s de facto deputy said there had been difficult moments in talks with the opposition Labour Party about how to break the Brexit impasse in the country’s parliament.

“The mood in the meetings has been constructive, it has been difficult at times, I won’t deny that because there are differences between the two political parties,” minister David Lidington said.

Irish Independent

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