AN agreement between Theresa May and senior Brexiteers to pass her EU deal was last night on “a knife-edge” – after it was demanded she set a date to quit.
The PM summoned seven hardline Tory leaders to Chequers yesterday in an attempt to thrash out an eleventh hour end to their six month-long deadlock.
An agreement between Theresa May and senior Brexiteers to pass her EU deal was last night on a knife edge – after it was demanded she set a date to quit[/caption]
Mrs May gave the figures – including Boris Johnson and four other ex-Cabinet ministers – 24 hours to decide whether to support her Brexit deal, as she laid out ways to turbo charge work on alternative arrangements to replace the Irish backstop.
If they don’t, the PM warned them that Remainer MPs will succeed in their bid to seize control of Brexit’s timetable and shape from Wednesday.
In turn, former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith and arch Eurosceptic group boss Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted only a promise from her to resign in weeks would get the deal over the line.
One senior Tory at the three hour long meeting told The Sun last night a deal was “on a knife-edge”, with another adding: “Things are very delicate”.
‘BIG DECISIONS’ FOR BREXITEERS
The source added: “The Brexiteers have some very big decisions to make overnight”.
But a Brexiteer also at the Chequers meeting yesterday instead claimed: “If she agrees to go, the deal would pass. That was made clear”.
Another there added: “The PM’s future was the elephant in the room today. It’s the elephant in every room these days”.
The showdown in the grand 17th house in the Chilterns came ahead of a massive week that will see the shape of Brexit decided, as well as the PM’s fate.
Also yesterday as Westminster prepares to reach breaking point;
- A fledgling Cabinet coup to oust Mrs May for a caretaker PM collapsed within hours as the two candidates for the job distanced themselves and senior Tories from across the Brexit divide rushed to shore her up.
- Cabinet loyalists begged Theresa May to pivot to a No Deal Brexit as the only way to save her job.
- It emerged that Mrs May will hold an emergency Cabinet meeting at 10am Monday to try to agree a way forward between her feuding top table on Brexit, ahead of a new EU exit day of April 12.
- Brexiteer MPs fought bitter clashes with each other on their private WhatsApp group over whether to give in and back the PM’s deal.
Mrs May refused to discuss resigning with the group, who want a Brexiteer to replace her in No10 to negotiate the next phase, a free trade deal.
Downing Street aides also said she has never discussed quitting with them, and only husband Philip May would know her real thoughts.
But Mrs May signalled to hardliners that if they agreed to back her deal, it will be put to the Commons tomorrow in a third and final Meaningful Vote.
Senior ally ministers with the PM in Chequers – including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and party chairman Brandon Lewis – warned the Brexiteers that it may be their last chance to stave off meltdown.
Rebel Tory backbenchers will ally with Labour today to force a vote to take decision making powers from the Government to Parliament – and Chief Whip Julian Smith told the gathering at the PM’s country retreat that they will win.
A fledgling coup to oust Mrs May for a caretaker collapsed yesterday when the two candidates tipped for the job – her de facto deputy David Lidington and Mr Gove – both ruled themselves out of it.
Mr Lidington said: “If there’s one thing working closely with the Prime Minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task”.
The coup attempt was blamed on Mr Gove’s supporters.
Chancellor Philip Hammond attacked the plotters as “self-indulgent”.
And IDS added: “They should be apologising and they should shut up, for god’s sake. That’s the last thing we want”.
Meanwhile, a small handful of senior ministers who remain loyal to the PM have urged her to declare she will take the UK out of the EU on April 12 with no agreement if the third and final meaningful vote fails this week.
The bid is being lead by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and party chairman Brandon Lewis.
One senior minister told The Sun: “Pivoting to No Deal is the only way to keep the party on side.
“If she agrees to do a customs union, she will lose half her MPs and be in Ramsay Macdonald territory.”
BREXITEERS ‘BATTLE’ ON WHATSAPP
Brexiteer backbenchers were bitterly divided on what to do yesterday, and fighting broke out on their WhatsApp group.
Former London mayor candidate Zac Goldmsith lashed out at diehard Tory MP Anne Marie Morris: “When you are asked, as you will be, why you opted for years of paralysis, division and the inevitable death of Brexit when you COULD have stopped the madness, what will you say?
“Yes, but my principles??”
Ms Morris replied: “My conscience is clear. I will vote against her deal and any extension”.
Another Brexiteer MP switcher, Nadine Dorries, then chimed in to back Mr Goldsmith: “God, I want to cut my wrists. How many ways to leave the EU your way? Just one. The one Parliament votes for next week in the indicative votes.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg arrived at Chequers with his 12 year-old son Peter.
MOST READ IN BREXIT
Boris wasn’t wearing a seatbelt as he turned down the mansion’s driveway, behind the wheel of his family people carrier.
IDS arrived at the wheel of an open top vintage sports car, wearing a baseball cap.
No10 remained tight-lipped about the Chequers meeting.
A Downing Street spokesman would only say: “The PM and a number of Government Ministers met today at Chequers for lengthy talks with senior colleagues about delivering Brexit.
“The meeting discussed a range of issues, including whether there is sufficient support in the Commons to bring back a Meaningful Vote this week.”
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith insisted only a promise from the PM to resign in weeks would get the deal over the line[/caption]
Brexiteers could make it Chequers Mate for the PM by insisting she must name the date to go[/caption]
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