Theresa May should set out plans to quit in order to get Brexit deal through, says Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans

Tory backbencher Nigel Evans, a joint executive secretary of the influential Conservative 1922 Committee, said Theresa May should set out her plans to quit in order to get her Brexit deal through.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 8:45 am
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 9:53 am
Left Theresa May, right, Nigel Evans

"Clearly a number of people do not want the Prime Minister anywhere near the next phase of negotiations, which is the future trading relationship between ourselves and the EU," he told BBC Radio 4's Today.

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He said there should be an "orderly" process to replace the Prime Minister, with a full leadership contest rather than an interim successor.

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Left Theresa May, right, Nigel Evans

Tory former minister Sir Oliver Letwin, who is leading plans for MPs to seize control of the Brexit process from the Government, acknowledged that the Commons may not unite around any of the available options.

Sir Oliver acknowledged that any votes would be advisory rather than binding on the Government and it may take several rounds of voting before a majority is found for any of the options - if one can be found at all.

He said Mrs May "hasn't been able to get a majority and we don't know what she could get a majority for, so once we find that out there is a way forward, in principle, and then the next thing would be for the Prime Minister to take that forward and for the Government to implement it".

But he told BBC Radio 4's Today: "None of us know whether it will work."

Asked if it was possible that all options were rejected, he said: "Of course I have to accept that. I can't predict... what Parliament will do."

Shadow attorney general Baroness Chakrabarti said a second referendum had never been Labour's preferred outcome.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson took part in the march of hundreds of thousands of people calling for a referendum at the weekend.

But Lady Chakrabarti told BBC Radio 4's Today: "It has never been our preference but since last autumn it has been one of a menu of options for breaking the deadlock.

"And if that's what it takes to break a deadlock in Parliament then so be it.

"I have no doubt that it will be one of a menu of options that MPs ought to be able to discuss and vote on this week."

She said Mr Watson was "an elected Member of Parliament so he is allowed to be rather more enthusiastic than me".

Asked about party leader Jeremy Corbyn's views, she said his job was to "desperately try to bring people together" from both sides of the Brexit divide.

Asked if Labour MPs would be given a free vote on the Brexit options, she said "we have to find a way to allow people to coalesce" but "we also are a democratic party and there was a conference motion last autumn and before that there was a general election manifesto" setting out party policy.

Theresa May's former Downing Street director of communications, Katie Perrior, said it was time for the Prime Minister to announce her departure date to get her Brexit deal through.

Writing in The Times Red Box, Ms Perrior said: "Maybe it's time to stop finding scapegoats and admit that Theresa May and her lack of leadership has made a bad situation worse.

"With great sadness, it's time for her to swap her departure date in return for the deal. It's the least she can do."

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox insisted that Mrs May was respected by the public, despite calls for her to go from MPs.

"What I was finding from real voters was people spontaneously saying 'I don't understand how Theresa May puts up with the pressure, she is a great public servant, her resilience is amazing'," Dr Fox told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"There seems to me to be a bigger disconnect now between Westminster and what is happening out in the country than ever before."

He said Tory Eurosceptics had to accept that MPs would block a no-deal Brexit.

"For a lot of my colleagues, I think they still believe there is a route to no deal. I have come to the conclusion some time ago that was unlikely given the House of Commons that we have.

"I think we will see today that there is a mood in the House of Commons to stop us leaving without a deal, even if that means no Brexit. I think that is a constitutionally disastrous position."

Mr Fox suggested that the looming prospect of European elections could persuade MPs to back the Brexit deal.

"I'm not sure that there are many people in the House of Commons who would fancy that particular meeting with voters," he told Today.

"It would unleash a torrent of pent-up frustration from voters and I think that the major parties will do what they can to avoid having to fight those European elections.

"There is nothing in politics like a little bit of self-interest to concentrate the minds, and I think, as we get towards that date, increasingly my colleagues will have to decide which of the limited options they want to follow."

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, Business Secretary Greg Clark, Cabinet Minister Brandon Lewis, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt have arrived at Downing Street ahead of a Cabinet meeting.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said "Good morning" to reporters as he walked through the door of Number 10 at the same time as Larry the cat.