May under fire over new Brexit plan

THERESA May will make the case for her new Brexit plan in Parliament later, amid signs that Conservative opposition to her leadership is hardening.

The Prime Minister (PM) will outline changes to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill including a promise to give Members of Parliament (MPs) a vote on holding another referendum. But shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the offer was “too weak”.

Some senior Tories will today ask party bosses for a rule change to allow a no-confi- dence vote in her leadership. Environment Secretary Michael Gove defended the PM’s plan, urging MPs to “take a little bit of time and step back” to “reflect” on the detail of the bill due to be published later today.

Fellow cabinet minister and prominent Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom said she was “looking very carefully at the legislation” and “making sure that it delivers Brexit”. MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the European Union (EU) three times, and attempts to find a formal compromise with Labour have failed.

The prime minister yesterday asked MPs to take “one last chance” to deliver a negotiated exit or risk Brexit not happening at all. But several Tory MPs have criticised her plan. Among them, Nigel Evans will today urge party bosses on the 1922 committee to change party rules to allow for an immediate vote of no-confidence in Mrsconfidence May.

Because the PM survived such a vote in December, the current rules say she cannot face another for 12 months. The committee has said ‘no’ to such a change before. But the Conservative Home website has urged people not to vote for the party in Thursday’s European elections if Mrs May is still in post “by the end of today”.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says a small number of Labour MPs have gone to a briefing with the government’s Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, to discuss the deal.

But a number of the party’s MPs have spoken out against the PM’s plan, with Sir Keir saying all she had offered was votes on customs arrangements and a further referendum that MPs would be able to get anyway as amendments to the bill. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“This is not a compromise of policy, it is just saying you can have votes on these things”. —BBC

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