Any bid to topple me would risk Brexit delay, says PM May

Brexit will be closely watched as UK prime minister, Theresa May, fights not just for her EU divorce deal, but also for her political life, while the US could be thankful this holiday for data expected to show an economy in the very best of health.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's premiership has been thrust into crisis, with some of her own party members seeking to oust her.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's premiership has been thrust into crisis, with some of her own party members seeking to oust her.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • British Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday said any move to topple her would risk delaying Brexit, adding that she would not let talk of a leadership challenge distract her from a critical week of negotiations.

Since unveiling a draft divorce deal with the European Union on Wednesday, Mrs May's premiership has been thrust into crisis by the resignation of several ministers, including her Brexit minister, and some lawmakers from her own party seeking to oust her.

To trigger a confidence vote, 48 of her Conservative Party MPs must submit a letter to the chairman of the so-called 1922 committee, Mr Graham Brady.

More than 20 lawmakers have said publicly that they have submitted a letter, while others are expected to have done so confidentially. Mr Brady told BBC Radio yesterday that the threshold of 48 had not yet been reached.

"These next seven days are going to be critical, they are about the future of this country," Mrs May told Sky News.

"I am not going to be distracted from the important job.

NOT MAKING NEGOTIATIONS EASIER

I am not going to be distracted from the important job. A change of leadership at this point isn't going to make the negotiations any easier ... what it will do is mean that there is a risk that actually we delay the negotiations and there is a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated.

PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY, whose remarks come amid reports that senior ministers want the draft deal reworked.

 
 
 

"A change of leadership at this point isn't going to make the negotiations any easier ... what it will do is mean that there is a risk that actually we delay the negotiations and there is a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated."

Mrs May said negotiating teams were working "as we speak" and she intended to go to Brussels and meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

She said she would also be speaking to other European leaders ahead of an EU summit to discuss the deal on Sunday.

Several British newspapers reported that five senior pro-Brexit ministers were working together to pressure Mrs May to change the draft deal, but writing in The Sun on Sunday newspaper, Mrs May said she saw no alternative plan on the table.

Former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, who resigned on Thursday in protest at the deal, said he supported Mrs May as leader but her deal was "fatally flawed" and he did not think it would be approved by Parliament.

"I still think a deal could be done but it is very late in the day now and we need to change course," Mr Raab told the BBC.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News his party would vote against Mrs May's deal when it came to Parliament, but distanced himself from calls for a so-called people's vote on the final agreement.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'Any bid to topple me would risk Brexit delay, says PM May'. Print Edition | Subscribe