May takes swipe at Tory critics ahead of ‘critical’ week for Brexit

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Theresa May took a swipe at Tory rivals threatening to unseat her as party leader as she warned the next seven days would be “critical” to achieving a successful Brexit.

The Prime Minister warned that a change of leadership would not make it easier to get a deal past parliament or the EU, after furious Brexiteer backbenchers started moves to remove her.

In a message to those plotting her downfall, including members of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic MPs, she said she had not considered quitting.

She added: “A change of leadership at this point isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier and it isn’t going to change the parliamentary arithmetic.

“What it will do is bring in a degree of uncertainty. That is uncertainty for people and their jobs.

“What it will do is mean that it is a risk that we delay the negotiations and that is a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated.”

Mrs May’s interview came after former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, whose resignation last week was a key point in one of her most brutal weeks as Prime Minister, suggested she had failed to stand up to a bullying European Union.

There were also continuing reports of a plan by senior Cabinet ministers who remain in Government to try to alter the withdrawal agreement at the 11th hour.

Asked about this, Mrs May said that “there is indeed more negotiation taking place and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

The Andrew Marr Show
Dominic Raab on The Andrew Marr Show (BBC)

But he also confirmed he had been speaking “intensively” with Andrea Leadsom and other ministers looking to change her deal.

He said: “I only resigned on Thursday morning so I can’t say I have had extensive conversations. But I am willing to talk and be as constructive as I can.”

He warned MPs against submitting no confidence letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, saying: “It’s a total distraction from what we need to do, we need to get Brexit over the line, we need to support our Prime Minister.

“I have got huge respect for her, I wrote that in my resignation letter, it is not flim-flam.

“I have worked very closely with her on Brexit and I think there is still the opportunity to get this right, support the Prime Minister – but she must also listen and change course on Brexit.”

Countdown to Brexit
(PA Graphics)

“Of course it has been a tough week, actually these negotiations have been tough right from the start, but they were always going to get even more difficult right toward the end when we are coming to that conclusion.”

She added that the next seven days “are going to be critical”, and said she would be travelling back to Brussels to talk with key figures including Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president ahead of an emergency European Council summit on November 25.

Responding to Mrs May’s interview, a source in the ERG said: “We have negotiated in good faith with the iceberg and cannot break our commitments to it.”

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