Brexit up in the air as May pushes divorce deal for third time

With Prime Minister Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers publicly downplayed any immediate threat to her leadership, insisting she is still in control.

With Prime Minister Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers publicly downplayed any immediate threat to her leadership, insisting she is still in control.

AFP

LONDON - British Prime Minister Theresa May held crisis talks with senior colleagues and hardline Brexiteers on Sunday trying to breathe life into her twice-defeated European divorce deal after reports her cabinet was plotting to topple her.

The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union was already slipping from May's weakened grasp as she struggled to increase support for her deal and parliament prepared to grab control of Brexit in the coming days.

At one of the most important junctures for Britain since World War Two, politics was at fever pitch.

READ: Deal, no-deal, delay or no Brexit? The endgame

Yet, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it remains unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.

May called rebel lawmakers including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg and Steve Baker to her Chequers residence on Sunday, Downing Street said, along with ministers David Lidington and Michael Gove. The two ministers denied reports they were being lined up as a possible caretaker prime minister.

"The meeting discussed a range of issues, including whether there is sufficient support in the Commons to bring back a meaningful vote (for her deal) this week," a spokesman said.

May was told by Brexiteers at the meeting that she must set out a timetable to leave office if she wants to get her deal ratified, Buzzfeed reporter Alex Wickham said on Twitter.

READ: Anti-Brexit protesters stage mass rally in London

With May humiliated and weakened, ministers publicly downplayed any immediate threat to her leadership, insisting she is still in control and the best option is for parliament to ratify her Brexit deal.

The 2016 referendum revealed a country divided over much more than EU membership, and has sparked soul-searching over everything from immigration to what it means to be British.

The divisions show no sign of healing: hundreds of thousands of people marched through London to demand another referendum on Saturday and 5.2 million have signed a petition calling for a revocation of Article 50. Brexit supporters are also mobilising for what they fear will be a betrayal of the referendum.

Illustrating the high stakes, the Sunday Times reported that senior ministers were plotting a "coup" against May.

The newspaper said 11 unidentified ministers agreed May should stand down, warning she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgement has "gone haywire".

Source
Reuters