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May takes pot-shot at plotters

November 18, 2018


LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday told the plotters planning to overthrow her that their alternative Brexit plans would not make all the problems disappear.

May is fighting to salvage her draft Brexit deal and her job after a tumultuous week in which four ministers resigned, MPs slammed the proposal and members of her own party tried to oust her.

But she insisted there was no better option on the table and any alternative plans would still not conjure up a solution to keeping open the border with the Irish Republic.

“People say ‘If you could only just do something slightly different, have a Norway model or a Canada model, this backstop issue would go away’. It would not. That issue is still going to be there,” she told the Daily Mail newspaper. “It’s not everybody’s ideal deal. You were never going to get that.

“The job of prime minister is to make tough decisions which are not always black or white. I have to find a way through, what best suits everybody’s needs.”

May received the backing on Friday of Michael Gove and Liam Fox, the last remaining pro-Brexit heavyweights in her cabinet. But the pair and three other cabinet Eurosceptics were meeting over the weekend to try and force May to change her Brexit plans, the BBC and The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

The broadsheet said the group believed it was not too late for May to go back to Brussels and demand a unilateral exit from the backstop arrangements concerning the Irish border. May could yet face a vote of no confidence from her own MPs.

At least 48 Conservative MPs are required to submit letters of no confidence in the party leader to trigger a vote, and 23 have publicly confirmed they had done so.

The 585-page draft deal aims to ensure a smooth divorce from the EU after more than four decades of membership and outlines a transition period for both sides.

But MPs told May on Thursday that there was no chance of it securing majority support in parliament. Eurosceptic MPs fear the deal would keep Britain shackled to Brussels long after Brexit on March 29, 2019. EU supporters say it would leave the UK on worse terms than it has inside the bloc and are calling for a second Brexit referendum to break the logjam.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2018