Demands for Theresa May to quit over ‘abject surrender’ Brexit delay

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Theresa May was accused of an “abject surrender” in Brussels and told to quit by one of her own MPs after she agreed to delay Brexit until 31 October.

Challenging her in the Commons, Brexiteers questioned whether the Prime Minister understood the level of “anger” across the country after having “broken promises 100 times” on not pushing back the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION

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And former ministers David Davis and Greg Hands joined calls for new leadership to reset Brexit negotiations.

Mrs May faced MPs following a late-night agreement with the EU to delay Brexit by up to a further six months, ensuring the UK will take part in EU elections unless the Withdrawal Agreement can be passed before 22 May.

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Mark Francois, the deputy leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, said the Prime Minister was guilty of “sheer obstinacy”, and Tory grandee Sir Bill Cash claimed the agreement “undermines our democracy”.

“Does the Prime Minister appreciate the anger that her abject surrender last night has generated across the country, having broken promises 100 times not to extend the time?” Mr Cash asked, before adding: “Will she resign?”

Mrs May replied: “I think you know the answer to that.”

Setting out the terms of the agreement in Brussels, which will see the UK retain full privileges of EU membership, the Prime Minister told MPs: “Sadly, not sufficient numbers of members across this House voted to leave the European Union on those dates and hence the extension has been requested to enable us to come to a position where this House can agree on a majority on a deal that we can deliver on leaving the European Union.”

She said she had fought off attempts by French President Emmanuel Macron to force tough conditions on the UK during an extension, including the possible removal of its EU Commissioner and its veto over budget issues.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the second Brexit extension in the space of a fortnight represents “not only a diplomatic failure, but is another milestone in the government’s mishandling of the entire Brexit process”.

But the two leaders tried to sound a positive note on talks between their parties which now represent the last chance for the government to have a say in the Brexit process.

Negotiators from the two front benches met yesterday for a second time this week, but little immediate progress is expected with MPs told that with an extension secured, they can return to their constituencies for the remainder of the Easter holiday.

Mr Corbyn said talks between Labour and the Conservatives to find a Brexit compromise were “serious, detailed and ongoing”, and on the central Labour demand that the UK stay in the EU customs union, Mrs May said: “I think there is actually more agreement in relation to a customs union than is often given credit for when different language is used.”

But the Labour leader warned that “all options should remain on the table, including the option of a public vote,” adding: “If these talks are to be a success... the government will have to compromise.”

Mrs May replied: “I’m not prepared just to accept Labour’s policies, the Labour Party isn’t prepared to just accept our policies. This takes compromise on both sides.”

Earlier, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the government would “listen” to the option of a second referendum, responding to a question from SNP MP Joanna Cherry.