Brexit crisis: UK PM May soldiers on, appoints new ministers
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday soldiered on by appointing replacements for the ministerial posts vacated by some of her rebelling MPs over their Brexit concerns regarding a controversial European Union (EU) withdrawal agreement.
May promoted Steve Barclay from minister of state in the Department of Health to take charge as the new Brexit secretary after his predecessor, Dominic Raab, stepped down in protest over "fatal flaws" in the divorce deal the premier had struck with the European Union (EU).
In a clear attempt to surround herself with more allies, May also brought back into the Cabinet Amber Rudd, the former home secretary who had resigned amid the Windrush immigration scandal earlier this year but was later found to have been let down by Home Office officials.
Rudd, who has already given her backing to the controversial EU withdrawal agreement as "not perfect but perfect was never on offer", takes charge as work and pension secretary to replace Esther McVey, who resigned in protest on Thursday.
Reports of other major Cabinet resignations were eventually put to rest, as environment secretary Michael Gove rejected the offer of stepping in as the new Secretary of State for Exiting the EU but said he had no intention to resign.
Asked if he had confidence in Premier May, Gove said, "I absolutely do." "I haven't appointed a new Dexeu (Department for Exiting the European Union) secretary yet and I will be making appointments to the government in due course," May said during her phone-in with London's LBC radio, when asked about the issue.
Another pro-Brexit minister, international trade secretary Liam Fox, also spoke out in her favour, urging MPs to support the premier's draft Brexit agreement, saying a "deal was better than no deal".
Confronted by some angry callers during the radio show over allowing the UK to be locked into following EU laws with this agreement, May said, "We are not being locked in, we are taking control of our laws, our borders, leaving the single market and we are ending free movement. These are the things the British people were most concerned about. That is what the people voted for and that is what I am delivering".
"I am doing my job. I am bringing back what I believe to be the best deal for Britain and MPs will then do their job, thinking about the impact of that on their constituents," she added.
She even compared herself to her cricketing hero, prolific England batsman-turned-commentator Geoffrey Boycott, who she said had "kept at the crease and carried on".
The premier remains defiant despite the prospect of a no-confidence vote after Jacob Rees-Mogg, a leading Tory Brexiteer, piled on the pressure by submitting a letter of no-confidence to the chair of the Conservative's influential 1922 Committee on Thursday.
His decision is expected to have led to other Brexiteers to submit similar letters to Graham Brady, the Chair of the committee of backbench Tory MPs.
This could mean that a no-confidence vote in May's leadership could be held within days, with party rules dictating that it must be held "as soon as possible" if 15 per cent of the parliamentary party - meaning 48 MPs - submit letters. According to some reports, such a vote could be held as soon as Monday if the 48-MP mark is crossed on Friday.
At a press conference in Downing Street on Thursday evening, May was asked if she was ready to fight any confidence vote, and she replied, "Am I going to see this through? Yes".
"I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people," she said.
Meanwhile, the EU has already indicated that it was not willing to re-negotiate another deal and is keen to press ahead with getting the remaining 27 member-states to sign off on the current plan.
The biggest sticking point in the over 500-page draft remains over what is termed as a Northern Ireland backstop, which leaves the EU with the option of keeping the whole of the UK within a common Customs Union if a future trading relationship fails to be thrashed out during the transition period, set to run until December, 2021.
The current draft is a provisional agreement until both sides can agree a final pact for their future trading relationship and sets out commitments over citizens' rights after Brexit, the proposed 21-month transition period, and a 39 billion-pound so-called "divorce bill" that the UK would pay as a price to exit the economic bloc.
European Council president Donald Tusk has confirmed November 25 as the date of an emergency summit where the remaining EU members are set to formally approve this deal. The premier then faces the tougher prospect of getting British MPs to approve this in Parliament, with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority Tory government, threatening to vote down the deal.
"Leadership is about taking the right decisions, not the easy ones," May told reporters when asked about this conundrum.
Britain had voted in favour of Brexit in a referendum in June 2016, which led to the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to set the clock on the country's formal exit from the 28-member bloc by March 29, 2019.
However, if an orderly exit arrangement cannot be finalised, Britain faces the prospect of crashing out of the EU without any deal, which would open up a whole new set of complications.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
Get Latest Business News, Stock Market Updates and Videos; Check your tax outgo through Income Tax Calculator and save money through our Personal Finance coverage. Check Business Breaking News Live on Zee Business Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe on YouTube.