Brexiteer Tories tell Theresa May they will back her deal if she lays out timetable to quit Downing Street this year
BREXITEER Tory MPs have told Theresa May they can deliver a majority for her EU deal if she lays out a timetable to leave No10 this year.
The Sun has been told that “dozens” of sceptical backbenchers are now ready to hold their noses and vote for the PM’s revised divorce agreement, even if she can only win small tweaks to it.
Senior Tory backbenchers want a firm departure date from Mrs May, if she is to win their backing for her Brexit deal[/caption]
In exchange, they want the PM to publicly lay out how she will step down and allow a successor to negotiate a future trade deal.
Mrs May faces a knife edge final Commons vote to approve her deal on March 12, or be forced by the Commons to delay Brexit.
One senior Tory Brexiteer said last night: “We need her to lay out a timetable for her departure this year.
“A decent amount of us have now told the whips we would change our vote and back the deal if she did – enough of us to get it through.”
The MP added: “We just can’t have her thinking she’s got a mandate to negotiate the trade deal.
“That’s the real prize, not the backstop, which she only needs to give us a fig leaf for quite frankly.”
A second Tory MP rebel added: “I’ve told my whip I’ll back the deal if she goes.
“There are dozens of colleagues who will do the same because everyone is so fed up. We urgently need new direction.”
A No10 source said last night that though the PM was aware that calls for her to go are mounting again, nobody had discussed the proposition with her.
The source added: “That’s not exactly something you’d want to bring up with her“.
Geoffrey Cox is struggling to wring significant changes from Brussels to the unpopular Irish backstop[/caption]
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Mrs May was forced to say she will resign before the next election in 2022 to fend off a leadership challenge in December.
But only this week, she signalled she wants to stay on for some time after Brexit to deliver on her domestic agenda.
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox is battling against time to wring enough legally binding changes from Brussels to the unpopular Irish backstop before the showdown vote in 12 days time.
It emerged yesterday that No10’s hopes of holding the vote next week were fading, as Mr Cox is struggling to win a time limit or an exit mechanism for it.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “There remains a significant amount of work still to do”.
Meanwhile hardline Brexiteers yesterday turned up the pressure on Mr Cox not to sign off just small changes to the backstop, insisting his “credibility as a lawyer is on the line”.
Senior European Research Group figure said: “Cox took a terrible bashing over the Withdrawal Agreement in December and was found in contempt of House of Commons.
“He wants to repair his reputation and go back to the bar. That means not giving in to No10 pressure, and being honest if the backstop is still inescapable”.
In a bid to hold Mr Cox’s feet to the fire, the arch Eurosceptic ERG also set up a legal panel of their own to scrutinise the changes when they are revealed.
They include senior lawyers and the DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and veteran Eurosceptic Bill Cash.
Dominic Raab is on the ERG’s legal panel, which will scrutinise any Brexit deal amendments laid out by Geoffrey Cox[/caption]
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