WATCH Theresa May vows to fight for her job as she rejects Brexiteer criticism
A defiant Theresa May today vowed to stay on as Prime Minister “for the long-term” as she pushed back at criticism of her Brexit plans from her own party.
After an extraordinary week in which two senior Cabinet ministers resigned over her approach to leaving the EU, Mrs May said: “I have always said that I am in this for the long-term.”
The embattled Prime Minister has faced a storm of criticism from the Eurosceptic wing of her party after finalising a white paper on Brexit which vows to maintain close ties with the European Union in a bid to ease trade and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.
Critics of the Prime Minister are particularly angered by plans for a common rulebook with the EU on traded goods, as well as the Government’s bid to closely align customs rules with Brussels through a ‘EU-UK free-trade area’.
But Mrs May today insisted that the proposals represented a "good deal for the UK” and urged Brexiteers - who have threatened to torpedo key legislation in the Commons this week - to keep their "eyes on the prize" of leaving the EU.
She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "The clock is ticking. But this is a deal that has benefits. Our companies will abide by these rules anyway. Giving them a frictionless border means that the jobs that depend on that frictionless trade will be protected.
"It means we deliver on the Northern Ireland border. It means that we have got benefits out this deal. This is a good deal for the UK."
DAVIS 'NOT CUT OUT' OF BREXIT PLANS
Mrs May meanwhile rejected suggestions from former Brexit Secretary David Davis and his ex-minister Steve Baker - who both quit over the proposals signed off at the Chequers summit of top ministers - that they had been sidelined in talks with the EU.
The former Cabinet heavyweight this morning accused Downing Street of being "astonishingly dishonest" about the process, while Mr Baker said the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) had been reduced to a "Potemkin structure to [distract from] what the Cabinet Office Europe unit was doing for the Prime Minister".
But Mrs May insisted "no department was cut out of these discussions".
She said: "David Davis was discussing [this with Michel Barnier. Michel Barnier had made it clear to him the un-negotiability of the position that we had, so we had a choice.
"We could have said we’ll stick where we are and see what happens and risk actually ending up with a chaotic leaving, which I don’t think is in people’s interest.
"Or we could have said 'ok, let’s look at moving forward, let’s look at an alternative proposal,’ which we have put forward."
TORIES 'BOTCHING BREXIT'
The Prime Minister also warned Brexiteers that moves to kill off her Chequers deal by tabling a string of amendments to the Customs and Trade Bills in the Commons this week could hobble preparations for a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
"That Trade Bill is an important part of ensuring that we're able to maintain trade agreements in the future," she said.
"If we don't see that trade deal through. Then something like 40 agreements that the EU has with various countries around the world won't be able to be continued when the UK leaves the EU for us as a United Kingdom."
Mrs May added: “Let's just keep our eyes on the prize here. The prize is delivering leaving the European Union in a way that's in our national interest."
Labour - which appears to have capitalised on the Conservative disunity by widening its poll lead over the party - said Mrs May’s plan for Brexit "doesn't stand up to scrutiny".
Party chair Ian Lavery said: "The Tories are botching Brexit, so the Prime Minister has resorted to shameless threats aimed at the British people.
"No one - not the public, Parliament or the Conservative party - is happy with Theresa May's offer. This has descended into a shambles."
Elsewhere in her Marr Show interview, the Prime Minister revealed that US President Donald Trump had advised her to “sue the EU”, and she defended the controversial commander-in-chief’s decision to repeatedly hold her hand as the two leaders met on Friday.