Defiant Theresa May rejects Tory calls to quit and declares: I am going to see this through
Theresa May has warned Tory MPs who want her ousted from her job that she is determined to "see Brexit through" to the end.
The Prime Minister's personal authority has taken a battering on a day which has seen a number of ministerial resignations as well as Tory MPs submitting letters of no confidence in her leadership.
But at a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference, Mrs May insisted she believes "with every fibre of my being" that the deal she has secured with Brussels is the right one for the country.
Eurosceptic Tory MPs have reacted with fury to her plan, which will see the UK remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit as a way of avoiding a hard Irish border until a future trade deal can be agreed.
However, in a section which has angered her DUP allies, Northern Ireland will also have to stay in parts of the EU single market, thereby tying it closer to Brussels than the rest of the country.
And the customs arrangement will only come to an end with the agreement of Brussels, meaning the UK cannot unilaterally walk away from the set-up.
The Prime Minister insisted it was the best possible deal she could have secured, and called on MPs to back it when it comes before the Commons next month.
"My approach throughout has been to put the national interest first," she said. "Not a partisan interest and certainly not my own political interest.
"I do not judge harshly those of my colleagues who seek to do the same but who reach a different conclusion. They must do what they believe to be right, just as I do. I’m sorry they have chosen to leave the Government and I think them for their service.
"But I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people."
Mrs May insisted the draft agreement she had struck with the EU delivered on the referendum result by ending free movement, bringing back control of British laws and end the payment of billions of pounds a year to Brussels.
And she said: "I believe this is a deal which is in the national interest. And am I going to see this through? Yes."
Asked if there was any point at which she would quit as a result of the pressure she is under, the keen cricket fan said: "You might recall from previous comments I’ve made about cricket that one of my cricket heroes was always Geoffrey Boycott. And what do you know about Geoffrey Boycott? He stuck to it and he got the runs in the end."
On a day of Tory civil war, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey both resigned this morning in protest at her Brexit blueprint, as did junior ministers Shailesh Vara and Suella Braverman.
Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg then announced that he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister, increasing speculation that enough have now been sent in to trigger a formal vote.
In his letter, the European Research Group chairman said: "The draft withdrawal agreement presented to Parliament today has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the Prime Minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative Party manifesto.
"It is of considerable importance that politicians stick to their commitments or do not make such commitments in the first place. Regrettably, this is not the situation, therefore, in accordance with the relevant rules and procedures of the Conservative Party ... this is a formal letter of no confidence in the leader."
Other MPs followed suit, but it is understood they are still short of the 48 letters needed to trigger a vote.