Theresa May pushes on with Brexit agenda after tough European Union summit

Last Laughs       May continues to face the heat over Brexit as Yemen slides
       	        Rupanwita Bhattacharjee and Soham Sen         16 December 2018

David Lidington, David Gauke, Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond and Greg Clark are understood to have stepped up discussions over whether to send the issue back to the public.

At the same time, she made clear a failure by European Union leaders to offer concessions risked the collapse of the whole agreement, with the United Kingdom leaving in March in a disorderly, no-deal Brexit.

They want the prime minister to reschedule the meaningful vote on her deal as early as possible, however, possibly in the week beginning January 14, to allow MPs time to vote on alternative options.

Other senior Tories - including former chancellor Ken Clarke - have urged Mrs May to reach out to Labour backbenchers in a bid to find common ground to move forward.

European Union leaders have indicated they would be happy to accept Britain staying on as a member, and campaigners hope Brussels would be willing to put the Brexit process on hold to give time for a public vote to be held, probably in late spring.

After meeting the British PM, Leo Varadkar said: "I have to say some of the suggestions she made, made sense, others I thought were hard but what I said unequivocally is that we want to be helpful, we want to help this deal over the line, but are willing to talk about explanation, clarification, statements explaining what the deal means but we couldn't have anything that contradicted the withdrawal agreement".

His comments come after Mrs May made it clear she would step down before the scheduled 2022 general election as she fought off a vote of no confidence last week. The problem for pro-Brexit members of May's Tory party is that there is no way for Britain to leave the backstop without the EU's agreement.

However, the Times newspaper reported on Saturday that most of May's ministers thought her deal was dead and were divided over the way forward.

Kal | The Economist
Kal | The Economist

The rather tumultuous week started with Theresa May deferring the Brexit internal party poll as she failed to convince her peers about the advantages of her own legislative draft.

However, the Labour leadership has made it clear it will only strike when it considers the Government to be at its most vulnerable.

In a press conference at the end of a European Council summit, Mrs May said: 'I had a robust discussion with Jean-Claude Juncker - I think that's the sort of discussion you're able to have when you have developed a working relationship and you work well together.

"Because the damage to jobs, and employment, and growth will be very significant indeed".

"This means that businesses will not be able to get their parts".

Jeremy Hunt has insisted the United Kingdom will "flourish and prosper" even without a Brexit deal as he says he would also like a "crack" at being Prime Minister.

"That's a deal, but a different type of deal from the Prime Minister's".

Mrs May - who is engaged in crucial talks at the European Council summit in Brussels - was clearly angry as she appreared to berate Mr Juncker for briefing journalists that her address to leaders of the 27 remaining states yesterday evening had been "nebulous".

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