London: British Prime Minister Theresa May battled for political survival on Thursday as she tried to defend her draft Brexit deal before a hostile Parliament after a string of ministers quit.
May insisted that her proposed EU withdrawal agreement was the best deal Britain could hope to strike when it leaves the European Union on March 29, warning that the only alternatives were leaving with no deal or not leaving at all.
But MPs on all sides told her that there was no way it could pass their approval, with arch-Brexit-eers and EU loyalists alike insisting it was already sunk.
Amid the political turmoil, the pound plunged on currency markets.
May went into battle after Dominic Raab resigned as the Brexit secretary over the draft deal, while a second cabinet minister and two junior government ministers also walked out.
She faced a barrage of hostile questions from MPs — not only from the Opposition but from her own Conservative backbenchers. “If we get beh-ind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead,” May told lawmakers.
“The British people want us to get this done.“The course is clear: we can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated.”
EU leaders will hold an extraordinary Brexit summit on November 25. If they approve the agreement, the British Parliament is scheduled to vote on it in early December. But MPs lined up to tell her that it could not pass, from Brexit hardliners who see the deal as conceding too much to Brussels, to EU supporters who want closer ties to the bloc or a second referendum.
May had secured her Cabinet’s collective appr-oval for the agreement during a five-hour meeting on Wednesday. But Conservative Brexiteer Mark Francois said it was “mathematically impossible” to get the deal through Parliament’s lower House of Commons.
Fellow Conservative Andrew Bridgen told May to step down, saying: “Now surely it’s in the national interest for her to leave”. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads a group of anti-EU Conservatives, openly asked May why he should not seek to trigger a leadership contest.