Thursday, 7 July 2022 – 08:02

Pressure mounts for May’s exit as Brexit legislation is withheld

May’s pressure to resign has mounted following her decision to delay the release of Brexit legislation MPs describe as “concerning”.

She is due to meet with Tory MPs on Friday to discuss their concerns with her 10-point plan dubbed ‘Seeking common ground in Parliament’, something her backbenchers view as a Brexit that does not deliver on the 2016 referendum.

May’s spokesperson said: “The prime minister is listening to colleagues’ concerns about the bill and will continue to.”

It comes after the shock resignation of Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the House, who ditched her job on Wednesday saying she couldn’t back a deal she “fundamentally opposed” and has now been replaced by treasury minister Mel Stride.

The withdrawal agreement bill (WAB) was originally due for release on Friday, however, Theresa May has forced the delay until the week starting June 3.

As Mrs Leadsom was due to announce the publication and introduction of the bill on Thursday, government whip Mark Spencer addressed Parliament instead stating he will give an update after an 11-day recess.

He said: “We had hoped to hold a second reading on Friday, June 7… At the moment we have not secured agreement to this in the usual channels. Of course, we will update the House after when we return from recess.”

Concessions the prime minister set out in her latest plan:

  • A guaranteed Commons vote on whether to hold a second referendum
  • A guaranteed Commons vote on a “customs compromise”
  • A legal obligation for the UK to seek alternative arrangements to replace the NI backstop by the end of 2020
  • If the backstop does not come into force the bill will guarantee NI stays aligned with the UK and has customs territory 
  • Legislation to develop new workers’ rights bill and the upkeep of environmental standards
  • A legal duty to get changes to the political declaration on future relationships with the EU

But despite accelerating pressure foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt is still backing May, saying she will still be prime minister when Donald Trump arrived for his state visit lasting from June 3 – 5.

He said: “Theresa May will be prime minister to welcome him and rightly so.”

However, defying May completely and backing Boris Johnson for Tory leadership is hard Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who criticised the prime minister suggesting we should leave the EU with no deal at all. 

Rees-Mogg tweeted: “The prime minister’s latest proposals are worse than before and would leave us bound into the EU. It is time to leave on WTO terms.”

 

Twitter: @Jacob_Rees_Mogg

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz also slammed the prime minister telling Parliament May had once again put her own “political survival” ahead of the national interest.

She added: “It is clear that the prime minister does not command a majority in her approach to Brexit and she has failed to accept this political reality.”

The withdrawal agreement bill has so far been rejected on three occasions in the Commons and despite environment secretary Michael Gove pleading with MPs to “take a little bit of time and step back” to “reflect” on the deal, Tory defiance still seem harsher than ever. 

Now, although the government has made new plans to release the Brexit withdrawal bill in June, it has already been rejected by Labour, Tory backbenchers and the DUP – making the process seem rather pointless.

Meanwhile, European Elections have begun today and are due to conclude on Sunday with results to be revealed in the evening after the last polling station is closed. 

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