British PM under fire over new Brexit plan

Agency, 22 May : Theresa May will make the case for her new Brexit plan in Parliament later, amid signs that Conservative opposition to her leadership is hardening.

The prime minister will give a statement to MPs on her changes to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – including her promise to give MPs a vote on holding another referendum. But Labour MPs said too little had changed for them to come on board. And one ex-Tory minister questioned whether June’s vote would even happen.

MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU three times, and attempts to find a formal compromise with Labour have failed.

On Tuesday, the prime minister asked MPs to take “one last chance” to deliver a negotiated exit – or risk Brexit not happening at all. But Mrs May’s new plan had “failed to turn sceptics into endorsers”, said BBC political correspondent Chris Mason.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson – who wants to succeed Mrs May as prime minister – said on Twitter: “We are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum. The Bill is directly against our manifesto – and I will not vote for it. “We can and must do better – and deliver what the people voted for.”

Meanwhile Dominic Raab, another leadership hopeful, said Mrs May’s deal would “break our clear manifesto promises”.

It’s become a painful ritual of a tortuous process: the prime minister unveils a vision for Brexit, and MPs queue up to demolish it in the House of Commons. On Wednesday it looks like it is going to happen again. If Theresa May’s speech yesterday sought to attract switchers – and turn sceptics into endorsers – it failed.

Worse than that for Downing Street, some Conservatives who backed the plan when it was last voted on, now say they’ll reject it. Among many Conservative MPs, there is a bleak, end of days mood. Some wonder if it’s even worthwhile putting the bill to a vote.

Others ponder getting rid of the prime minister even sooner than she’s promised. But those around Theresa May insist they are not willing to give up at least yet – they are determined her plan will be put to MPs in around a fortnight’s time.

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4 months ago

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