Blow for Theresa May as Andrea Leadsom refuses to confirm backing for revised Brexit deal
Andrea Leadsom has dealt a blow to Theresa May as she refused to confirm she will vote for the Withdrawal Agreement next month.
The Cabinet minister backed the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal in its previous three bids, but speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she said she would only support it "so long as it continues to be leaving the European Union".
Ms Leadsom, who previously said she was “seriously considering” running for the Tory leadership, also said leaving the bloc was the “most important thing” - even meant a no-deal exit.
The comments come as Cabinet is due to meet this morning to discuss Mrs May’s “bold new offer” of a revised Withdrawal Agreement Bill that could accept some of Labour’s Brexit demands on workers' rights and a customs union.
Asked whether she would back the flagship Brexit law, Ms Leadsom said: "Absolutely key for me is that it does deliver Brexit. I will back something that remains Brexit."
And the Commons leader added: "I continue to support the Prime Minister to get her Withdrawal Agreement Bill through. It is leaving the EU and so long as it continues to be leaving the European Union I continue to support it.
"What I do think is for any negotiation to succeed you have to be prepared to walk away, and in addition the legal default position is that on 31 October the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal.
"I would like us to have a deal I think it’s very important that we do, but if we get to the end of October and it's not possible to get a deal, leaving the EU is the most important thing of all."
MPs are expected to vote on the withdrawal agreement deal in early June, and Mrs May has agreed to set out plans to stand down within weeks regardless of whether the Commons approves her Brexit deal or not.