Theresa May tells MPs to 'do your duty' as Cabinet civil war erupts over possible Brexit delay

Posted On: 
27th February 2019

Theresa May has told Parliament to "do its duty" and get behind her Brexit deal after she bowed to pressure from her own ministers and offered MPs the chance to delay Britain's departure from the EU.

The Prime Minister said the UK still remained "firmly on course" to leave the European Union with an agreement.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister insisted that Britain still remained "firmly on course" to leave the European Union with an agreement - but said it could only do so if MPs "hold their nerve" and swing behind her plan.

Her comments, in an article for the Daily Mail, followed a furious Cabinet row in which pro-Remain ministers were accused of behaving in a "kamikaze" manner by one of their colleagues.

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Mrs May told MPs on Tuesday that they would get the chance to vote on extending Article 50 if her Brexit deal is defeated again.

But the move only came amid the threat of mass resignations by ministers who had vowed to back a cross-party Commons bid to try and swerve a no-deal Brexit.

In her article, Mrs May said she had found a "real determination" among EU leaders to grant concessions on the Irish backstop, which Tory eurosceptics have said must be changed in order to win their support for the Withdrawal Agreement.

But she warned MPs: "Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on March 29.

"Doing so would give businesses and citizens the certainty they deserve.

"By committing Labour to holding a second referendum, despite promising to implement Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has shown once again that he cannot be trusted to keep his promises. His cynical political games would take us back to square one.

"Instead, Parliament should do its duty so that our country can move forward."

At a heated Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, Justice Secretary Liz Truss rounded on her "kamikaze" colleagues Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark, who had all threatened to resign unless the Prime Minister moved to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

 Commons leader Andrea Leadsom is also said to have attacked the trio, while The Times reports that Mrs May rebuked the three ministers for breaking Cabinet collective responsibility.

But Ms Rudd and Chancellor Philip Hammond urged the Prime Minister to use any Brexit delay "to find a new coalition in parliament" for a deal, according to The Guardian.

Confused by the latest Brexit votes move from the Prime Minister? We've put together a handy explainer