Prime Minister Theresa May came out fighting tonight to insist that her Brexit deal was the right one for the country and its people.
After a day of ministerial resignations and amid growing clamour for a leadership challenge, she told a press conference: “I am going to see this through.”
Mrs May was speaking after a gruelling three-hour session in Parliament, when MPs from all sides told her they would not support her Brexit plan.
She said she would follow the lead of her sporting hero – former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott – and keep going to get the deal signed off by the EU and approved by MPs.
Earlier, she had faced a string of ministerial resignations
- Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was the first to go over the “flawed” deal.
- He was followed by Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey.
- Junior minister Suella Braverman was the next to step down
- Another junior minister, Shailesh Vara, made it four resignations in a day.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg stepped up the pressure on Mrs May when he submitted a letter of no confidence in her to 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady.
He said afterwards: “The deal risks Brexit because it is not a proper Brexit.”
Rees Mogg listed fellow Brexiteer Tories Boris Johnson, David Davis, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Penny Mordaunt as “very capable of leading a proper Brexit.”
There would be a mandatory vote on Mrs May’s leadership if 47 Tory MPs followed suit with letters to Sir Graham.
Mrs May told journalists at the press conference that the withdrawal agreement had necessitated some “difficult and sometimes uncomfortable decisions”.
She added: “I understand fully that there are some who are unhappy with those compromises.
“But this deal delivers what people voted for and is in the national interest. We can only secure it, if we unite behind the agreement reached in cabinet yesterday.
“If we do not move forward with that agreement, nobody can know for sure the consequences that will follow.
“It will be to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it. They are looking to the Conservative Party to deliver.”
There were reports that Environment Secretary Michael Gove was being lined up to replace Raab as Brexit Secretary.
Mrs May insisted that he was doing an “excellent job’ where he is and said an appointment would be made “in due course.”
Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan warned rebel MPs that they could “destroy” the Government if they continued to undermine Mrs May.