May pushes on with Brexit aims after calming Tory nerves

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Theresa May is pushing ahead with her Brexit agenda after facing down critics with an “emotional” address to Tory backbenchers.

The Prime Minister appeared to steady her position after she delivered a “heartfelt” appeal for Conservative MPs to stand firm as EU withdrawal negotiations enter their frantic final phase.

The move came as the Government prepared to unveil parliamentary preparations for a no-deal Brexit in less than three weeks’ time, according to The Times.

A raft of legislation intended to deal with the consequences of the UK exiting the EU without an agreement will be launched in the second week of November, the newspaper reported.

Despite Mrs May seeming to dampen speculation of an imminent bid to oust her with a well-received address to a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, former Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan predicted the PM only had months left in power.

Asked if Mrs May had her backing, Ms Morgan told ITV’s Peston: “She has, absolutely, for now. But I think we’ll probably, in the course of the next 12 months, we’ll be looking for a new leader.”

The comments came after former home secretary Amber Rudd said that Mrs May had “won the room” with an emotion-tinged speech to the 1922 Committee.

And Leave-backing MP Michael Fabricant called the gathering a “love-in” for Mrs May.

The PM’s address came after a torrid week in which an anonymous MP was quoted as saying Mrs May should “bring her own noose” to the meeting.

Ms Rudd praised the PM, saying: “She got a warm welcome, she talked quite emotionally about why she was doing this for the good of the country and how it was important that the public and our party members realise that we are behind her and that we all wanted the same thing – which is to lead in the best interests of the country.”

Asked if the PM looked emotional, Ms Rudd said: “Well she looked like she really minded – it wasn’t reading from a script.

“She was talking frankly and honestly from the heart about why she was doing this and why it mattered.”

Ms Rudd said a lot of MPs condemned the “really nasty language” that had been used in the run-up to the meeting.

Amid claims that the number of letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee from MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in the PM was close to the 48 level needed to trigger a ballot, Ms Rudd insisted Mrs May’s position was now safe.

Ms Rudd said: “She was able to win the room and deliver something quite personal and emotional about why she was committed to doing it, despite being quite frank about the difficulties that were still there.”

Mr Fabricant said: “It wasn’t Daniella in the lions’ den – it was a petting zoo.”

The meeting came after fresh revelations about the Government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, with alternative measures to secure supplies of food and medicines from the continent being investigated in case of chaos on the English Channel crossing.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire defended the move.

He told ITV’s Peston: “I think that’s what governments should be doing in preparation in terms of dealing with the issues that could arise.

“It is not a situation that we want to get into.

“The Prime Minister remains focused on negotiating that right outcome which is the deal.

“But, ultimately, yes, of course, we don’t want to end up in a situation, but we must be ready. We need to be prepared.”

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