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UK PM Theresa May soldiers on amid rebellion over draft Brexit deal

Environment minister Gove asked to step in as Brexit secretary, but he too is reluctant

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Theresa May
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo: Reuters)

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday soldiered on with a rare move of directly addressing the public's questions over their concerns amid an ongoing rebellion within her own Conservative Party over a controversial European Union (EU) withdrawal agreement.

A day after she was hit by a number of ministerial resignations, including secretary Dominic Raab who stepped down over “fatal flaws” in the divorce deal with the EU, there are reports that his potential replacement may also be pondering stepping down from the Cabinet. Michael Gove, who is the current environment secretary, was reportedly asked to step in as the new Secretary of State for Exiting the EU but he has been reluctant.

“I haven’t appointed a new Dexeu (Department for Exiting the European Union) secretary yet and I will be making appointments to the government in due course,” May said during her phone-in with London’s LBC radio, when asked about the issue.

Confronted by some angry callers over allowing the UK to be locked into following EU laws with this agreement, she said, “We are not being locked in, we are taking control of our laws, our borders, leaving the single market and we are ending free movement. These are the things the British people were most concerned about. That is what the people voted for and that is what I am delivering”. “I am doing my job. I am bringing back what I believe to be the best deal for Britain and MPs will then do their job, thinking about the impact of that on their constituents,” she added.

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The 62-year-old premier remains defiant despite the prospect of a no-after Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Tory Brexiteer, piled on the pressure by submitting a letter of no-confidence to the chair of the Conservative’s influential 1922 Committee on Thursday.

His decision is expected to have led to other Brexiteers to submit similar letters to Graham Brady, the Chair of the committee of backbench Tory MPs.

This could mean that a no-in May's leadership could be held within days, with party rules dictating that it must be held "as soon as possible" if 15 per cent of the parliamentary party – meaning 48 MPs – submit letters.

ALSO READ: Brexit: Theresa May would survive any vote of confidence, says her deputy

According to some reports, such a vote could be held as soon as Monday if the 48-MP mark is crossed on Friday. At a press conference in Downing Street on Thursday evening, May was asked if she was ready to fight any confidence vote, and she replied, “Am I going to see this through? Yes.”

“I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people,” she said.

First Published: Sat, November 17 2018. 01:58 IST