Thursday 28 March 2019 2:17 AM UTC
LONDON March 28: Faced with losing all control over the Brexit process, British Prime Minister Theresa May looks to have played her final card by announcing she will step down if MPs approve her Brexit deal.
The embattled Conservative leader has faced growing calls to resign over the political crisis that has gripped Britain for months, and which forced her to ask the EU last week to delay Brexit by a fortnight.
With many MPs now pressing for a longer extension or even to reverse the whole process, May has made one last attempt to secure support for the divorce deal she has struck with Brussels.
She told MPs in her Conservative party on Wednesday that she would not “stand in the way” of new leadership for the “second phase of Brexit negotiations” — although did not spell out when exactly this would be, or what she would do if her deal was rejected.
‘Time to move on’
May has in the past won praise for her determination and ability to survive an extraordinary period of political turmoil since the Brexit vote but has now come under fire over her handling of Britain’s messy departure from the EU.
In support of May, Finance minister Philip Hammond said she had “demonstrated once again that she puts getting an orderly Brexit done ahead of everything else.”
“She put the country’s interests first,” Scottish Tory MP Luke Graham told AFP.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said May “cares deeply about our country and is a patriot.
“People must now support the deal and move us forward,” she said.
But May’s approach to the endgame — refusing to accept that MPs did not like her deal and delaying Brexit to keep trying to push it through — has prompted deep frustration and anger on all sides.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said her pledge to stand down “shows once and for all that her chaotic Brexit negotiations have been about party management, not principles or the public interest”.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the deal was “so bad that the PM has to promise to resign to get it through”, adding that May’s promise would “make an already bad project even worse”.
May has all but lost control of her government, with ministers from both the pro- and anti-Brexit camps joining scores of Conservative MPs in defying the government in parliamentary votes.
At the weekend, after another humiliating Brussels summit, British newspapers were full of reports of moves by her colleagues to oust her.
The Conservative-supporting Spectator magazine suggested May was the “worst prime minister in our history”, condemning her “lack of imagination, inability to lead a team or solve complex problems”.
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