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P
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May 23, 2019

PM pleads for Brexit support as calls grow for her to quit

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P
Pa
May 23, 2019

LONDON: Theresa May has pleaded with MPs to let her Brexit deal pass, as she faced intense pressure to quit after Tories rejected her latest proposals.

The Prime Minister warned that whoever succeeded her would face the same Brexit pressures as she called on MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB).In a Commons statement she appeared to acknowledge that her time in office was limited, having already said she will set out a timetable for her departure after the crunch vote on her Bill. “In time another prime minister will be standing at this despatch box,” she told MPs.

“But while I am here, I have a duty to be clear with the House about the facts. If we are going to deliver Brexit in this Parliament we are going to have to pass a Withdrawal Agreement Bill.“And we will not do so without holding votes on the issues that have divided us the most — that includes votes on customs arrangements and on a second referendum.”

Conservative Eurosceptics have reacted with fury to the Brexit plan’s offer of a vote on whether to hold another referendum. Senior Tory MPs will again seek to change party rules to allow a confidence vote in her leadership if she refuses to leave Number 10.

May said the WAB would be published on Friday and backing it would help get the UK out of the EU by the end of July. “We can bring an end to the months - years - of increasingly bitter argument and division that have both polarised and paralysed our politics,” she said.

“We can move on, move forwards, and get on with the jobs we were sent here to do, what we got into politics to do. That is what we can achieve if we support this new deal. Reject it, and all we have before us is division and deadlock.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Prime Minister’s offer was “little more than a repackaged version” of her three-times rejected deal.He told her: “This government is too weak, too divided to get this country out of the mess that they have created.” Earlier, Cabinet minister Michael Gove refused to guarantee that the WAB would now go to the Commons for a vote as planned in early June.

May had previously promised the Bill would be put before MPs in the week beginning June 3. Environment Secretary Gove refused to commit to that timetable, saying: “We will reflect over the course of the next few days on how people look at the proposition that has been put forward.”

But on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he stressed “there has to be a vote” on a Bill to implement the Withdrawal Agreement if the UK is to leave the EU with a deal.Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright also refused to give a “definitive” commitment to the timetable. In the Commons, May said only that the Bill would return “after the Whitsun recess” — Parliament returns on June 4 following the break.

But a Downing Street spokesman insisted “our commitment to have the second reading of that Bill in that week remains”.

May’s Commons statement, during which she largely repeated the 10-point package set out on Tuesday, followed a muted session of Prime Minister’s Questions during which key Brexiteer ministers were largely absent.The beleaguered Prime Minister faces a fresh bid to eject her from Downing Street from key figures on the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, which was to meet later on Wednesday.

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