Hard Brex­i­teers’ fresh bid to oust PM falls flat

Daily Mail - - Brexit In Crisis - By Claire El­li­cott Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

HARD­LINE Brex­i­teers’ bid to top­ple Theresa May fol­low­ing her agree­ment to work with Jeremy Cor­byn on Brexit col­lapsed last night.

At a stormy meet­ing of the back­bench 1922 Com­mit­tee, some of the 28 ‘Spar­tan’ Tory MPs who re­fused to vote for Mrs May’s Brexit deal at­tempted to or­ches­trate a se­cret vote of no con­fi­dence in the Prime Min­is­ter’s lead­er­ship.

But com­mit­tee chair­man Sir Gra­ham Brady re­fused to al­low it, warn­ing it would be desta­bil­is­ing for the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

After the meet­ing, one an­gry back­bencher, James Dud­dridge, de­clared it was ‘open sea­son’ on Mrs May and en­cour­aged col­leagues to put in let­ters to Sir Gra­ham stat­ing they had no con­fi­dence in her.

How­ever the plot­ters were quickly re­minded that, fol­low­ing last year’s failed coup, there is no of­fi­cial mechanism to un­seat Mrs May un­til De­cem­ber.

Other Tories poured scorn on their at­tempts, say­ing that the party should unite ahead of next month’s lo­cal elec­tions.

Amid sig­nif­i­cant anger over Mrs May’s will­ing­ness to talk to the Labour leader, Sir Gra­ham said he would keep her ‘in­formed’ of the mood of the party. Yes­ter­day, there were re­ports that some rank and file Tory mem­bers were cut­ting up their mem­ber­ship cards in protest at the move.

At Prime Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions, Brex­i­teers am­bushed Mrs May, with a num­ber crit­i­cis­ing her de­ci­sion to meet Mr Cor­byn.

Lee Row­ley said that last week she called the Labour leader ‘the big­gest threat to our stand­ing in the world, to our de­fence, and to our econ­omy’ and asked: ‘In her judg­ment what now qual­i­fies him for in­volve­ment in Brexit?’

For­mer Brexit min­is­ter David Jones asked: ‘Does it re­main the po­si­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter

that the leader of the op­po­si­tion is not fit to gov­ern?’

Ju­lian Lewis asked why, after talk­ing about No Deal be­ing bet­ter than a bad deal, Mrs May had ap­proached Labour when most of her party wanted to leave with­out a deal.

The usu­ally loyal Caro­line John­son spoke against what she called ‘the risk of let­ting down the coun­try and ush­er­ing in a Marx­ist, anti-Semite-led gov­ern­ment’.

After the 1922 Com­mit­tee meet­ing, Mr Dud­dridge said: ‘In my view, two-thirds of the par­lia­men­tary party in a se­cret vote would vote against her.’

Fel­low Spar­tan Mark Fran­cois said he would put in a letter of no con­fi­dence in the Prime Min­is­ter to Sir Gra­ham to­day.

Busi­ness min­is­ter Claire Perry said of Mr Fran­cois: ‘Mark has been very an­gry about Brexit for a very long time.

‘Mark and his friends tried hard to de­fen­es­trate the Prime Min­is­ter a while ago and un­der the terms of our party there is not an­other op­por­tu­nity to do so.

‘The Prime Min­is­ter was very clear at the 1922 Com­mit­tee last week that if peo­ple wanted her to go, she was pre­pared to re­sign after the first stage of this deal had been passed.

‘That was not enough for some. When you see that you think, “Well, look, there are some peo­ple for whom there is no com­pro­mise there for Brexit” so you have to fo­cus on get­ting Brexit through.’

Steve Baker, of the hard­line Euro­pean Re­search Group, told the New States­man: ‘I think we may be on the cusp of the de­struc­tion of both main par­ties.’

Con­ser­va­tive mem­bers shared im­ages of them­selves on so­cial me­dia cut­ting up their party cards. Pub owner Adam Brooks from Es­sex, said the Labour leader ‘has no right to be in­volved’ in Brexit talks and Mrs May has ‘killed’ the Con­ser­va­tive Party.

Lawrence Gartshore, 16, from War­wick, said: ‘This em­phatic ca­pit­u­la­tion by May was really the fi­nal straw.’

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