Britain's PM May urges lawmakers to back her Brexit deal but rebels remain unconvinced

LONDON (REUTERS) – British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday (Dec 6) urged lawmakers to back her agreement to leave the European Union, but made little headway with a bid to coax rebellious members of her party into supporting her deal.

May has repeatedly warned that if lawmakers reject her deal with Brussels, which would see Britain exit the EU on March 29 with continued close ties, the only alternatives are leaving without a deal or reversing Brexit.

The British Parliament is mid-way through a five-day debate on the Brexit deal, ahead of a crunch vote on Dec 11 which will define Britain’s departure from the EU and could determine May’s own future as leader. She currently looks set to lose that vote.

The day before the vote, on Dec 10, the European Court of Justice of Justice will deliver a judgment on whether Britain can unilaterally reverse its move to leave.

“There are three options: one is to leave the European Union with a deal… the other two are that we leave without a deal or that we have no Brexit at all,” May told BBC radio.

May said she was speaking to lawmakers about giving Parliament a bigger role in whether to trigger a so-called Northern Irish backstop arrangement or extend a transition period during which more EU membership terms would apply.

CHARM OFFENSIVE?

Concerns about the backstop are a key driver of opposition to the deal among both May’s own Conservative lawmakers and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

Supporters of a clean break with the EU say the backstop, intended to ensure no hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the EU-member Irish Republic, could leave Britain forced to accept EU regulations indefinitely, or Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of Britain.

“There are questions about how decisions are taken as to whether we go into the backstop, because that isn’t an automatic,” she said.

“The question is: do we go into the backstop? Do we extend… the implementation period?”

On Wednesday, May’s top parliamentary enforcer, or chief whip, Julian Smith, spent an hour meeting with pro-Brexit Conservative and DUP lawmakers, listening to their concerns about the deal. But lawmakers who attended the meeting said he did not offer a solution to persuade them to back it.

“This was not about doing deals, it was about listening,” said one leading pro-Brexit lawmaker.

Another said it was “too little, too late”.

May’s minority government governs with a working majority of 13 thanks to its deal with the 10 DUP lawmakers.

The DUP says it will vote against the deal but would support May in a vote of confidence if the deal fails.

During the first two days of debate, 15 of May’s own lawmakers have explicitly said they intend to vote against it. She will either need to win them back or win over a substantial number of opposition lawmakers, which appears unlikely.

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Britain can end Brexit unilaterally says top EU court adviser

Britain can end Brexit unilaterally says a top EU court adviser.

The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General said on Tuesday Britain has the right to withdraw its Brexit notice from the European Union unilaterally.

"Advocate General Campos Sanchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 … allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU," the bloc’s top court said in a statement.

While the Advocate General’s opinions are not binding, the court tends to follow them in its final rulings.

The case was brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians and was heard by judges at the Luxembourg court last week.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith, one of those who brought the case, said: "This is a huge win for us, and a huge step forward from the highest court in the business, and confirms what we have been hoping for: that the UK can indeed change its mind on Brexit and revoke Article 50, unilaterally.

"We now have a roadmap out of the Brexit shambles, a bright light has switched on above an ‘Exit’ sign and the false choice being offered to MPs at Westminster – that it is Mrs May’s disastrous deal or chaos – is shown for what it is, an abuse of Parliament.

"There are other options, and we can stop the clock."

The news has been seized upon by those campaigning for a second referendum.

Best for Britain member Tulip Siddiq MP said: "This judgment makes it unthinkable that the Government will pursue a path of constitutional and economic chaos, or to suggest their deal is the only game in town.

"Article 50 can be revoked and this self-inflicted mess can be unilaterally ended. All options must now be firmly on the table, and that includes a people’s vote."

Tory former attorney general and second referendum campaigner Dominic Grieve welcomed the ruling, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "It’s clearly significant.

"Of course it doesn’t necessarily have to be translated into a judgment, but the opinion of the advocate general is often very influential in forming the opinion of the court and it reinforces something I have to say I personally always thought was probably the case."

Asked if it made it more likely that there would be a new public vote, he said: "It is certainly helpful because it removes one of the arguments which is ‘Oh well, they would never allow us to change our minds’."

But the advice could also strengthen the government’s argument with Tory Brexiteers that unless they back May’s deal, they risk no Brexit.

Prominent Leaver Nigel Farage said after the statement: ""Every effort is being made on both sides of the Channel to stop Brexit."

It is highly unlikely that Mrs May would ever revoke Article 50 but many doubt how long she will be in charge for.

Meanwhile the Prime Minister is gearing up to open five days of debate on her Brexit deal on Tuesday afternoon.

May’s plan to keep close ties with the EU after leaving has been criticised by Brexit supporters and opponents alike.

She has the fight of her political life to secure parliament’s approval in a vote that will follow the debate on Dec. 11.

If she loses, May could call for a second vote on the deal.

But defeat would increase the chances of Britain leaving without a deal – a prospect that could mean chaos for Britain’s economy and businesses .

And it would put the Prime Minister under pressure to resign.

Labour have already said it is "inevitable" that they would bring a motion of no confidence if the Brexit deal fails.

Defeat could also make it more likely that Britain holds a second referendum.

May has been frantically holding meetings with wavering MPs in Number 10 to try and win them over.

The deal, sealed in Brussels last month, has united critics at both ends of the political spectrum.

Brexiteers say it will make Britain a vassal state, while Remainers say the country will become a rule taker.

More than 100 Tory MPs have publicly said they will not vote for the deal.

While the DUP, who prop up Mrs May’s government, are refusing to back her proposal because of the so-called Irish backstop.

Since most Labour and other opposition MPs will also reject the deal it’s difficult to see how she can get it through the House of Commons.

May is pressing on nonetheless.

"The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted," she will tell MPs.

"This is the deal that delivers for the British people."

Ahead of the debate on the deal parliament ministers face a contempt-of-Parliament challenge over their decision not to release the full legal advice on her Brexit deal.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended the decision not to release the full legal advice.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: "The reality is that the position of the legal advice is a very straightforward and a very longstanding one.

"I’m a former Lord Chancellor, it is a central part of the principles of our legal system that the advice provided from a lawyer to their client is treated as confidential, it’s privileged information.

"Government has always behaved in that way and actually if Government starts to have to publish every bit of legal advice it gets that is going to put us at a serious disadvantage when it comes, for example, to dealing with court cases with third parties.

"What we saw yesterday was the Attorney General, for the first time in a quarter of a century and more, coming to the Commons, taking detailed questions about the legal position, being very open about the legal position and providing Parliament with the information it needs.

"I think that is the right approach."

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Voice of the Mirror – ‘Theresa May is making her last political gamble’

Theresa May has campaigned like this before, and it didn’t end well. She is adopting the same approach she took in her disastrous 2017 general election – an unwarranted, yet unyielding, confidence.

That vote saw the Prime Minister lose 13 Tory MPs, and her majority in the Commons.

But, despite the catastrophic result of last year’s election, she is going into the Parliamentary discussions on her draft Brexit plan with a similarly unjustified “absolute certainty”.

Even a leader as bad at reading the room as Mrs May must recognise that she needs to quickly convert her many opponents – on both sides of the house – if she has any chance of persuading MPs to endorse her deal.

It won’t be easy – indeed, it may be impossible – and the Brexit debates over the next two weeks could be some of the most bitter and partisan since the 2016 referendum.

But now is the time for MPs who don’t share Mrs May’s unshakeable certainty to speak up. The outcome of this will affect us all.

See if we care

Who cares for the carers, when so many of those looking after our most vulnerable citizens are on breadline wages?

We must act on the shocking findings by the Institute for Public Policy Research, before we end up with an even deeper social care crisis.

It’s pure exploitation that nearly half of the 1.3 million carers are on less than the living wage or zero-hour contracts, struggling to pay for the basics. And, it’s the reason why, within a decade, we could be 400,000 workers short.

Brexit may well make the staff vacancy problem worse, but this problem is truly homemade. Our politicians have, for far too long, tried to deliver care on the cheap.

WelKym, baby!

Kym Marsh is rightfully excited about welcoming her first grandchild at age 42.

The Corrie star is not relishing being known as “Grandma”, and is looking for alternatives.

But we’re sure that whatever the tot calls her, she’ll be one proud – and glamorous – gran.

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UK, EU agree on draft Brexit political declaration

Document still needs to be agreed by leaders at summit this weekend, after agreement reached at negotiator level.

    The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed on a draft political declaration that sets out the terms of the post-Brexit relationship between London and Brussels.

    Speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street on Thursday, May said that the Brexit deal “is the right deal for the UK.”

    “The British people want this to be settled, they want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future,” May said. “That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.”

    The draft declaration sets out an “ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership”, officials said on Thursday, AFP news agency reported.

    The UK and EU agreed the terms for the draft divorce deal last week. That agreement is legally binding and covers the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

    It addresses the UK’s so-called “divorce bill” and outlines the “backstop” agreement, that will ensure no return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, in the event that the UK and EU fail to reach a future trade agreement.

    The draft political declaration is aspirational and not legally binding, but it sets out the future framework for EU-UK relations after Brexit, paving the way for an EU summit this weekend to rubber-stamp the agreements.

    Tusk said on Thursday that the EU executive informed him it has agreed on the text in principle and that the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states would screen the text on Thursday at a Brussels meeting.

    “The Commission president has informed me that it has been agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the leaders,” Tusk said.

    He said that the British prime minister and the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, had discussed the text on Wednesday.

    “The declaration established the parameters of an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership across trade and economic cooperation” and other areas, according to a copy of the document seen by the AFP.

    Representatives from all 28 EU countries are set to meet on Friday to prepare for the weekend summit.

    Gibraltar, fishing rights issues remain

    Some EU member states have raised objections to the divorce deal that was agreed at the UK-EU level and work is still ongoing among those states, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said Thursday.

    Spain wants stronger language underlining its role in any decisions on Gibraltar, a British territory on the tip of the Iberian peninsula. Meanwhile, several member states are concerned about the impact of Brexit on fishing rights in the waters around Britain.

    “I can confirm that the issue of Gibraltar, like the issue of fishing, are questions that still need to be tackled, resolved,” he said. “There are ideas, contacts are ongoing,” he added, in relation to Gibraltar.

    May addressed the issue on Thursday and said she thought a deal could be done.

    May said she had spoken to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and added: “I am confident that on Sunday we’ll be able to agree a deal that delivers for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar.”

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    Brexit goes down to wire as British PM Theresa May calls last-day talks

    BRUSSELS (AFP) – Negotiations to secure an orderly Brexit deal will go down to the wire after British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would return to Brussels for more talks on the eve of a planned signing summit.

    After an inconclusive trip to Brussels to meet European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker, Mrs May said she would return on Saturday (Nov 24) to finalise preparations for a full EU meeting the next day.

    It is believed that the texts of the deal will not be final before a meeting of top EU diplomats – the summit’s so-called “sherpas” – on Friday, frustrating some European leaders.

    “There are some further issues that need resolution. We have given direction to our negotiators this evening. The work on those issues will now start immediately,” Mrs May said in a statement on Wednesday.

    “I believe we have been able to give sufficient direction for them to be able to resolve those remaining issues,” she said, adding that she would meet Mr Juncker again on Saturday.

    With less than four days until Sunday’s meeting, a European Commission spokesman said: “Very good progress was made in meeting between President Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May.”

    But she added: “Work is continuing.”

    News of Saturday’s last-ditch meeting will not go down well in Berlin, where Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier urged negotiators not to reopen talks on the main withdrawal agreement.

    “I hope it will be solved by Sunday,” she told German lawmakers. “We know how difficult the discussions are in Britain, but I can say for the German government that we agree with this exit agreement.”

    Negotiators are hammering out details of a political statement on future UK-EU ties that will accompany the divorce deal, under pressure to put it together before the sherpa meeting on Friday.

    After enduring another parliamentary grilling at prime minister’s questions in London, Mrs May slipped out of the Westminster bear pit and crossed the Channel to meet the head of the EU executive.

    Having seen off – at least for now – a potential leadership challenge by hardline Brexiteers in her own party, she hoped to wring out of Brussels a Brexit arrangement that she can sell to her parliament.

    The withdrawal treaty itself is all but final, and preparations are under way for Sunday’s summit to sign it, but there remains the matter of the parallel 20-page political declaration on future relations.

    European diplomats and EU officials have been in intense talks on the declaration this week.

    Mrs May must show that she has left nothing on the table if she is to convince British members of parliament to ratify the deal in the coming weeks.

    Mrs May and Mr Juncker were expected to cover fishing rights and the movement of goods after Brexit, as well as the duration of the transition period and the British territory of Gibraltar, which lies on an outcrop off Spain.

    Mrs May faces pressure from her Northern Irish allies, who oppose a deal they say weakens British sovereignty in their province, and from Spain, which has warned it might oppose the accord over Gibraltar.

    Madrid wants a veto over applying any agreement on post-transition relations to Gibraltar but Mrs May told MPs that Britain “will not exclude Gibraltar from our negotiations on the future relationship”.

    There is frustration among some EU countries at Spain trying to play hardball so late in the game.

    “We are following the latest developments with growing concern and incomprehension – among the EU27 our Spanish friends are all alone on this,” an EU diplomat told AFP.

    Madrid reiterated its threat on Wednesday to vote against the draft deal.

    Two of Mrs May’s top ministers quit last week, including her Brexit secretary, while MPs from all parties came out against the withdrawal deal – increasing the chances that Britain will crash out of the Union on March 29 without an agreement.

    The withdrawal deal covers Britain’s financial settlement, expatriate citizens’ rights, contingency plans to keep open the Irish border and the terms of a post-Brexit transition.

    Opposition to the agreement is also building in the pro-Brexit camp. Anti-Europe Conservatives have savaged the divorce deal, which they say keeps Britain too close to the EU.

    Rebels led by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg failed in their attempt to force an immediate confidence vote in Mrs May’s leadership, but warned that they would keep trying.

    The withdrawal agreement sets out plans for a 21-month transition after Brexit, in which Britain and the EU want to turn their outline agreement on the future relationship into a full trade deal.

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    No-deal Brexit fears push Irish bond yield spreads to widest in over five months

    Irish government bond yield spreads over Germany were near their widest level since late May as worries over the economic impact of a messy Brexit hurt demand for the country’s debt.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May last week disclosed a draft agreement on leaving the European Union that met with strong opposition from within her party, could spark a confidence vote in her leadership and increases the chances of a “no deal” Brexit.

    • Read more: Irish shares worst hit as UK political crisis saps confidence Brexit deal is close to agreement

    Britain is one of Ireland’s biggest trading partners, and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is a key issue in Brexit talks. The turmoil in the UK has caused Irish government bond yield spreads to widen.

    “A no-deal Brexit could have an adverse impact on Ireland’s economic picture, which would impact risk assets and have some effect on government bonds as well,” said Commerzbank rates strategist Rainer Guntermann.

    “It could affect the country in general, it could impact the budget position, the deficit position, and generally weigh on risk assets as well.”

    While government bonds are generally not considered risky assets, euro zone government debt — especially lower-rated debt — often tends to perform differently, since individual countries don’t have control over printing money.

    So while British Gilt yields dropped on the reaction to the contentious Brexit proposal, Irish yields increased, with 10-year yields hitting a one-month high of 104.5pc on Friday.

    On Monday, Irish yields were more or less unchanged and the spread between Irish and German 10-year bond yields was at 63 basis points, close to a five and a half month high of 65.5 basis points hit on Friday.

    German bonds have been the subject of flight-to-safety demand, thereby increasing a lot of spreads across the euro zone, but Ireland’s underperformance stands out.

    For example, the Irish 10-year bond yield spread over its closest peer, Belgium, also reached its widest level since late May on Friday at 23.5 bps and was at 21 bps in early trade on Monday.

    Better-rated yields were a touch higher on the day, with German 10-year yields, the benchmark for the region, 1.5 bps higher at 0.385pc.

    Italian government bond yields were unchanged going into a week in which the EU is expected to respond to Italy’s revised budget proposals.

    Three officials close to the process told Reuters last week the European Commission will take the first step next week to discipline Italy over its defiant spending plans.

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    Threshold for triggering challenge to British PM May has not yet been met: Lawmaker

    LONDON (REUTERS) – The threshold for triggering a confidence vote in British Prime Minister Theresa May has not yet been met, the chairman of the committee in charge of Conservative Party leadership contests told BBC radio on Sunday (Nov 18).

    “The intention is clear that if it were to happen it ought to be a test of opinion very quickly in order to clear the air and get it out of the way,” Graham Brady, chair of the ‘1922 Committee’ said.

    Forty-eight lawmakers in May’s party must submit a letter to Graham Brady in order to trigger a confidence vote that could see her removed as leader of the Conservatives.

    May’s position as leader of the Conservatives in under threat after several ministers quit in protest at a draft Brexit agreement announced last week, and others in her party have openly called for her to stand down.

    In recent days some lawmakers have suggested that the threshold for a challenge had been met, but that Brady had yet to inform May.

    “Obviously, I wouldn’t play silly games with it,” he said when asked about those reports.

    So far more than 20 lawmakers have said publicly that they have submitted letters, but the total number sent is not known.

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    Brexit has U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May facing down a mutiny in her party

    Prime Minister Theresa May was grappling with the biggest crisis of her premiership on Friday after a draft Brexit deal with the European Union provoked the resignations of senior ministers and mutiny in her party.

    More than two years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a shock referendum, it is still unclear how, on what terms or even if it will leave the EU as planned on March 29, 2019.

    Coverage of Brexit on Globalnews.ca:

    Ever since winning the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 referendum, May has sought to negotiate a Brexit deal that ensures that the United Kingdom leaves in the smoothest way possible.

    But Brexit minister Dominic Raab resigned over her deal, sending the pound tumbling. Mutinous lawmakers in her own party openly sought to challenge her leadership and bluntly told her that the Brexit deal would not pass parliament.

    Asked if she would contest any challenge to her position, May replied: “Am I going to see this through? Yes.”

    On Friday, it was not clear whether Michael Gove, the most prominent Brexit-supporting minister in her government, would stay on as environment minister after May offered him the job of Brexit minister, British newspapers reported.

    Brexit will pitch the world’s fifth largest economy into the unknown. Many fear it will divide the West as it grapples with both the unconventional U.S. presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China.

    Amid the deepest political turmoil since the Suez canal crisis, when in 1956 Britain was forced by the United States to withdraw its troops from Egypt, the ultimate outcome remains uncertain.

    Scenarios include May’s deal ultimately winning approval; May losing her job; Britain leaving the bloc with no agreement; or even another referendum.

    The EU and Britain need an agreement to keep trade flowing between the world’s biggest trading bloc and the United Kingdom, home to the biggest international financial center.

    Supporters of Brexit say that while the divorce might bring some short-term instability, in the longer term it will allow the United Kingdom to thrive and also enable deeper EU integration without such a powerful reluctant member.

    British fishermen stage a “Fishing for Leave” protest against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit transition deal, in Hastings, England, April 8, 2018.

    By seeking to preserve the closest possible ties with the EU, May has upset her party’s many advocates of a clean break, and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her minority government.

    Meanwhile, proponents of closer relations with the EU in her own party and the Labour opposition say the deal squanders the advantages of membership for little gain.

    The deal will need the backing of about 320 of parliament’s 650 lawmakers to pass.

    “It is … mathematically impossible to get this deal through the House of Commons. The stark reality is that it was dead on arrival,” said Conservative Brexit-supporting lawmaker Mark Francois.

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    Brexit deal: Who wants to be Britain's next prime minister?

    LONDON (REUTERS) – Prime Minister Theresa May’s position as leader of the ruling Conservative Party is under assault by eurosceptic lawmakers who reject her EU exit strategy and want a more pro-Brexit leader.

    May has vowed to fight on to the next election in 2022, but if enough lawmakers demand her resignation she will face a confidence vote.

    Below is a summary of some of those who could be in the frame to replace May:

    BORIS JOHNSON, 54

    The former foreign minister is May’s most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the Cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.

    Johnson, regarded by many eurosceptics as the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, set out his pitch to the membership in a bombastic speech at the party’s annual conference in October – some members queued for hours to get a seat.

    He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try and ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.

    JEREMY HUNT, 52

    Hunt replaced Johnson as foreign minister in July and has urged the Conservative membership to set aside their differences over Brexit and unite against a common foe: the EU.

    Hunt voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. He served six years as Britain’s health minister – a role which has made him unpopular with many voters who work in or rely on the state-run, financially stretched National Health Service.

    JACOB REES-MOGG, 49

    A flamboyant millionaire who cultivates the image of an English gentleman from days gone by, Rees-Mogg has developed a cult following among those who want a more radical departure from the EU than May is proposing.

    Rees-Mogg, the head of an influential eurosceptic group of lawmakers, announced he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister the day after she unveiled her draft Brexit deal.

    But does he want the top job? Asked immediately after saying he had submitted his letter to depose May, Rees-Mogg said he would not be putting himself forward for the job.

    DOMINIC RAAB, 44


    Dominic Raab leaves Downing Street in London on Nov 14, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

    Britain’s Brexit negotiator quit May’s government on Thursday in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. Raab served only five months as head of the Brexit department, having been appointed in July.

    He was seen as a relative newcomer to the top table of government, but had served in junior ministerial roles since being elected in 2010. Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership and is a black belt in karate.

    SAJID JAVID, 48


    Sajid Javid arrives for a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

    Javid, a former banker and champion of free markets, has served a number of cabinet roles and scores consistently well in polls of party members. A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage, he has talked about having a portrait of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher on his office wall.

    Javid voted “remain” in the 2016 Brexit vote but was previously considered to be eurosceptic.

    MICHAEL GOVE, 51


    Michael Gove arrives at 10 Downing Street, London. PHOTO: REUTERS

    Gove, one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners during the referendum, has had to rebuild his Cabinet career after falling early to May in the contest to replace David Cameron, who resigned the day after losing the 2016 Brexit referendum.

    High-energy, and seen as one of the most effective members of cabinet in bringing forward new policies, Gove has become a surprise ally to May and so far backed her Brexit strategy.

    Gove teamed up with Boris Johnson during the 2016 Brexit campaign only to pull his support for Johnson’s subsequent leadership bid at the last moment and run himself.

    DAVID DAVIS, 69


    David Davis (centre) listens to Boris Johnson speaking at a fringe meeting during the Conservative Party Conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

    Davis, a leading eurosceptic, was appointed to lead Britain’s negotiations with the EU in July 2016, but he resigned two years later in protest at her plans for a long term relationship with the bloc.

    He has been touted as a possible interim leader.

    PENNY MORDAUNT, 45


    Penny Mordaunt leaves 10 Downing Street, in London. PHOTO: REUTERS

    Mordaunt is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of May’s Cabinet, where she serves as international development minister. Many had expected her to join the wave of resignations that followed the publication of May’s draft withdrawal deal.

    ANDREA LEADSOM, 55


    Andrea Leadsom arrives to attend the weekly meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street. PHOTO: AFP

    Leadsom, another pro-Brexit campaigner who still serves in May’s cabinet, made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron. But, rather than force a run-off vote against Theresa May, she withdrew from the contest. She currently runs parliamentary business for the government.

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    Who could replace UK PM Theresa May? Here's how her would-be successors line up

    Theresa May is battling to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest.

    The question now is: how and when will Mrs May exit the UK Prime Minister’s office? As the race heats up, John Downing looks at the would-be successors.

    BORIS JOHNSON: Former foreign minister, best known on this side of the Irish Sea has been a bookies’ favourite.  A substantial figure physically, he is more about style politically.

    Flipped from Remain to Leave in spring 2016.  A favourite among Conservative Party members who would choose from two final candidates chosen by the party’s MPs.

    Big doubt is whether he would make it through the MPs’ selection process and on to the ballot paper.

    JACOB REES MOGG: Dubbed “the Honourable Member for the 18th Century” he is a determined “young fogey” with an epic level of ignorance about Ireland and the border.

    Has a parliamentary party following and is a darling with a certain section of the party membership. But like Boris Johnson,  there are big doubts about him making the last two in the MPs selection process to get on the ballot.

    PENNY MORDAUNT: The overseas development minister and ardent Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt, is judged by some observers to have “insufficient authority and profile in the near-term.” But as a woman candidate she could prove more formidable than that.

    SAJID JAVID: Home secretary or justice minister, is seen as the favourite among younger Tories, representing the new face of a multicultural party.

    Colleagues say he is “trying to recover from a Referendum positioning error”.  In June 2016 Mr Javid voted for “Remain” but later tried to present himself as a pragmatic re-Leaver.

    A man with wide experience of government office, and unafraid of controversy on many issues, including race matters, he could be the candidate to come through the MP selection process. His face on a ballot paper would test members’ attitudes to change.

    PHILIP HAMMOND: The finance minister and former foreign minister is a determined “remainer” who has done all he could to deliver the softest Brexit possible. He has good credibility among the business community and enjoyed good relations with his Irish and EU counterparts.

    But colleagues often say he is “charismatically challenged” and he is derided as “spreadsheet Phil” for his love of that format of presentation. While he does have a following he looks an unlikely candidate at this point.

    MICHAEL GOVE: Famed for stabbing colleague Boris Johnson last time in summer 2016. Colleagues turned on him after that and he lost his cabinet job for a time.

    Now environment minister, he is a high-profile Leave campaigner, he could position himself well this time out.  Will be considered a real contender.

    ANDREA LEDSOME: Made it on the ballot in 2016 after a series of MPs’ votes for a run-off against Theresa May. But she ran an ill-judged campaign and quit early announcing that she did not have enough support.

    An internal party document last spring on the likely succession dubbed her “unsuitable” but she is an ambitious campaigner. A supporter of EU membership as recently as 2016, she advocated a Leave vote in 2016.

    RUTH DAVIDSON: The popular Scottish Conservative delivered their best performance in Scotland for more than 30 years with 13 MPs returned to London in May 2017.

    She showed courage in demanding assurances from Mrs May that commitments to gay rights stood despite the government propping-up deal with Democratic Unionist Party for her minority government in June 2017.

    But Ms Davidson is not an elected MP which she would need to be in order to stand.

    DOMINIC RAAB and DAVID DAVIS: Two former Brexit ministers who crashed out of Mrs May’s cabinet because she disregarded their views.  Both names will be mentioned but must be seen as marginal contenders.  David Davis was seen as a low-energy and non-committal in his job. Dominic Raab did himself huge damage by recently admitting he did not know how important the Dover-Calais link was to British commercial life.

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