Theresa May to Conservative MPs: I’m ‘prepared to leave’ if you back my Brexit deal
Tory MP James Cartlidge told media that May confirmed she would “not remain in post for the next phase of the negotiations” with the European Union and would leave as soon as her Brexit deal has been passed.
Asking MPs to back her troubled deal and complete their “historic duty,” May told colleagues that she is prepared to step down earlier than intended “in order to do what is right for our country and our party,” Downing Street then said in a statement with extracts of PM’s speech.
May said the Brexit process had been a "testing time" for the country and that she had "heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party."
I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won't stand in the way of that
May said she knew some MPs were worried that if they voted for her deal, she would use it as a mandate to continue on, but assured them she would not do that.
May told lawmakers she wanted an orderly handover to a new Tory prime minister, but gave no date for her departure. Some reports are suggesting the PM will be gone by “summer” while others said she would go “reasonably soon.”
The move appears to be somewhat of a turnaround for May, who on Monday told the House of Commons that she understood there was "still not sufficient support" for the deal – but her promise to resign if it goes through appears to be last-ditch effort.
Staunch Brexiteers reacted with anger to May's move online, with some accusing her of "blackmailing" them into supporting her widely disliked deal.
May won plaudits from some colleagues, however, with Tory MP George Freeman calling it "the best speech she’s ever given” and praising her "incredible dignity."
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would back the PM's withdrawal deal if the Northern Irish DUP party abstained, telling reporters that if the DUP was still against the deal he would "not feel able to back it."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said May's offer to step down in exchange for support on her deal shows that her Brexit strategy was "about party management" and "not principles or the public interest."
"A change of government can't be a Tory stitch-up, the people must decide," he said.
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