May tries to stall her exit by three months

As cross-party talks fail to make progress, the PM aims for an­other vote on tweaked ‘di­vorce’ bill

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page - By Gor­don Rayner PO­LIT­I­CAL EDITOR

Theresa May has tried to de­lay her res­ig­na­tion for al­most three months by telling min­is­ters she can get a Brexit deal done if she is al­lowed to stay as Prime Min­is­ter un­til the end of July. Mrs May met Jeremy Cor­byn for cross-party talks last night where she told him that she would ta­ble a vote on a Brexit “di­vorce” Bill next month with or with­out a deal with Labour. She ear­lier told Cab­i­net it was “im­per­a­tive” the Brexit leg­is­la­tion was passed be­fore Par­lia­ment’s sum­mer break.

THERESA MAY has tried to de­lay her res­ig­na­tion for al­most three months by telling min­is­ters she can get a Brexit deal done if she is al­lowed to stay as Prime Min­is­ter un­til the end of July.

Mrs May met Jeremy Cor­byn for cross-party talks last night where she told him that she will ta­ble a vote on a Brexit “di­vorce” Bill next month with or with­out a deal with Labour. She ear­lier told her Cab­i­net that it was “im­per­a­tive” the Brexit leg­is­la­tion was passed be­fore Par­lia­ment breaks for the sum­mer.

The Prime Min­is­ter has promised to quit once the Brexit di­vorce deal is agreed, mean­ing she would stay in Num­ber 10 for at least an­other 11 weeks.

It came as a new poll showed the Tories will not solve their prob­lems sim­ply by chang­ing leader, as 60 per cent of vot­ers said they would be no more likely to vote Tory in next week’s elec­tions if Mrs May was re­placed.

Mrs May’s face-to-face meet­ing with Jeremy Cor­byn in her par­lia­men­tary of­fice last night was only the third time they have met since the talks be­gan six weeks ago.

A Down­ing Street spokesman said Mrs May made clear her “de­ter­mi­na­tion to bring the talks to a con­clu­sion and de­liver on the ref­er­en­dum re­sult to leave the EU”. The talks were de­scribed as “use­ful and con­struc­tive” and min­is­ters will meet to­mor­row to con­tinue the di­a­logue.

She is ex­pected to set a dead­line for Labour to agree to a deal or end the talks by next week, as she wants to pub­lish Brexit leg­is­la­tion be­fore next week’s Euro­pean elec­tions.

Mrs May is now pre­pared to put a tweaked Brexit deal to a vote in Par­lia­ment even if she can­not guar­an­tee it will pass, as she has ac­cepted she has “run out of road”.

Her aim is for the Withdrawal Agree­ment Bill – the leg­is­la­tion re­quired for Bri­tain to leave the EU with a deal – to re­ceive royal as­sent be­fore Par­lia­ment breaks at the end of July.

That would trig­ger Mrs May’s de­par­ture, al­low­ing for a Tory lead­er­ship con­test to take place over the sum­mer.

Nei­ther the Con­ser­va­tives nor Labour expect the cross-party talks to pro­duce a deal, and both sides now also have cold feet over the “plan B” of al­low­ing MPS to choose the way for­ward through a se­ries of so-called in­dica­tive votes.

In­stead, Mrs May will pub­lish the Withdrawal Agree­ment Bill in the week be­gin­ning June 3 to force MPS into a choice be­tween the deal on the ta­ble or the pos­si­bil­ity of Brexit be­ing can­celled.

One govern­ment source said: “MPS in con­stituen­cies that voted Leave will have to de­cide once and for all whether

‘MPS in con­stituen­cies that voted Leave will have to de­cide once and for all whether they back Brexit’

they back Brexit or want to risk Par­lia­ment vot­ing to re­voke Ar­ti­cle 50 when the cur­rent Brexit ex­ten­sion runs out.”

Mrs May wants to pub­lish the Withdrawal Agree­ment Bill next week so she can show vot­ers progress is be­ing made be­fore they go to the polls in the May 23 Euro­pean elec­tions.

The Bill will in­clude con­ces­sions agreed with Labour on work­ers’ rights and reg­u­la­tory align­ment of goods in the hope that it will en­tice more Labour MPS to vote for it when it has its se­cond read­ing in Par­lia­ment in the first week of June.

It will still, how­ever, con­tain the con­tro­ver­sial “back­stop” to pre­vent a hard border in North­ern Ire­land, and Labour’s de­mands for a per­ma­nent cus­toms union will be ig­nored.

Mean­while, a Comres poll for The Daily Telegraph showed that only 15 per cent of vot­ers would be more likely to vote Con­ser­va­tive in the Euro­pean elec­tions if Mrs May was re­placed as leader.

SIR – Tim Stan­ley (Com­ment, May 15) is spot-on: we have a po­ten­tial prime min­is­ter.

He is some­one who has hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning Lon­don govern­ment in an oth­er­wise Labour city, and of lead­ing the For­eign Of­fice; who has personal ex­pe­ri­ence of the Brus­sels labyrinth, and who is op­ti­mistic, glob­al­ist, free-en­ter­prise, lib­eral, with con­fi­dence in the fu­ture of a free Bri­tain. He is Boris John­son.

As we Con­ser­va­tives lick our wounds and sym­pa­thise with many good coun­cil­lors who lost their seats in the lo­cal elec­tions – thanks to Theresa May’s be­trayal of her prom­ises to im­ple­ment Brexit on time – our MPS shrug and con­tinue with their West­min­ster games. Should they fail to put Mr John­son on the bal­lot pa­per come the lead­er­ship elec­tion, they will face pub­lic and party anger the likes of which they have not yet seen. Jac­ques Arnold

Pres­i­dent, Ton­bridge & Malling Con­ser­va­tive As­so­ci­a­tion West Malling, Kent SIR – Rather than hold­ing a dis­cus­sion on the fu­ture of the Con­ser­va­tive party, as ad­ver­tised on your back page (May 14), I sug­gest that Do­minic Raab and his as­so­ci­ates should be ar­rang­ing a Re­quiem Mass. Graham W Swift

New­cas­tle-un­der-lyme, Stafford­shire

SIR – The Tory party seems at last to recog­nise that Mrs May is the great­est threat to its sur­vival. For as long as the party lacks an ob­vi­ous suc­ces­sor to her, it will sink ever fur­ther into the abyss. Its mem­bers must now set aside their dif­fer­ences, pool their tal­ents and unite be­hind a new leader.

De­spite sev­eral over-am­bi­tious can­di­dates al­ready set­ting out their stalls, some lack suf­fi­cient stature for the job. The field must be nar­rowed quickly and, once the fi­nal choice has been made, Mrs May must be in­vited to re­sign or face swift re­moval.

Un­der its new leader, the party must seize the ini­tia­tive from the Brexit Party by un­der­tak­ing un­equiv­o­cally to lead Bri­tain out of the EU. There must no longer be any ques­tion of “Brexit in name only”. Michael Al­lis­stone

Chich­ester, West Sus­sex

SIR – Michael Gove is urg­ing the Tories to al­low Mrs May to re­sign in her own time (re­port, May 14).

Have the last three years, in which both Brexit and the Tory party have been de­stroyed, passed him by? Does he not re­alise that this lady’s an­swer to ev­ery­thing is to put it off, if pos­si­ble un­til it goes away or dies a death? Peter Thomp­son

Sut­ton, Sur­rey

SIR – Michael Gove has am­bi­tions to suc­ceed Theresa May in No 10. As the per­son who knifed Boris John­son, an act which re­sulted in Theresa May be­com­ing Prime Min­is­ter, he must shoul­der the blame for the Brexit fi­asco we find our­selves in. He can’t be trusted and is there­fore com­pletely un­suit­able for the top job. Trevor Nash

Peter­bor­ough

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.