Brexit: Theresa May survives but remains a wounded leader

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Mrs May also appointed little-known former health minister and Leave supporter Stephen Barclay as Brexit secretary - though he will only be in charge of "domestic planning" for the UK's exit from the European Union while Mrs May and Number 10 will continue handling negotiations with Brussels.

Despite Barclay's Vote Leave background, political commentators have suggested he will limited influence on Theresa May's Brexit plan before MPs vote on it in the coming months. It is said this could be reached next week, though there is doubt whether there would be enough support to unseat her.

"I think it's absolutely vital that we focus on getting the right deal in the future, and making sure that in the areas that matter so much to the British people, we can get a good outcome", he told reporters.

Holding a referendum would take months so the European Union would have to be asked for more time as the United Kingdom is now on course to leave at 2300 GMT on March 29, 2019.

In order for a vote of no-confidence to be called, 48 Conservative MPs must submit letters demanding a vote to the chair of the party's influential backbench 1922 committee.

Dominic Raab left his posting as Brexit Secretary over the document, and so, too, did Esther McVey who left role as Work and Pensions Secretary. As of last night, 23 MPs had publicly declared "no confidence" in the PM, leaving the plotters 25 short, but Downing Street is braced for more letters on Monday after MPs were expected to use the weekend to gauge the mood in their constituencies.

Two junior ministers also quit and pro-Brexit Conservative MPs warned that May's deal would not win the approval of parliament.

"People say 'If you could only just do something slightly different, have a Norway model or a Canada model, this backstop issue would go away.' It would not".

Eurosceptics argue that without a unilateral exit clause from the backstop, Britain is less sovereign even than it was inside the EU.

"I think there is one thing that is missing and that is political will and resolve". Most Labour MPs, including some who campaigned to stay in the European Union, represent districts that voted to leave and where sovereignty and borders remain potent issues.

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May however has continued to insist that the agreed deal is the best on offer.

Despite his party's sluggish performance in opinion polls at a United Kingdom level, the Scottish Labour leader says there should be another general election, one he thinks Corbyn can win.

"I can only surmise that's because she can see just how unappealing the Brexit process has been to people and the concerns that has raised".

MPs from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a Northern Irish party that props up May's minority government, have also expressed strong reservations over the proposed deal.

"However, unless the European Union is willing to alter what the current membership entails, and that means greater transparency, accountability and a more practical view on immigration, then we risk another polarised outcome. That issue is still going to be there", May said in the interview, published Saturday.

As Britain's second female prime minister, May is inevitably compared to the first, Margaret Thatcher, whose steely determination May admires.

But yesterday, a defiant Mrs May won the backing of the most prominent Brexiteer in her government as she fought to save a deal that has stirred up a plot to force her out of her job.

"If we are forced into that situation we will have to look at ways in which that can be avoided but that will not be easy", he said.

May told LBC radio the threat of a no deal Brexit was personal as she is Type 1 diabetic: "I depend on insulin every day".

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