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Tories rally behind PM amid Brexit chaos - but should May stay?

By Pete Madeley | Politics | Published:

Tory MPs have rallied around the Prime Minister insisting: "We'll give her our full support over Brexit."

MPs, clockwise from top left: Michael Fabricant, Gavin Williamson, Michael Fabricant, James Morris, Bill Cash and Wendy Morton

Theresa May's administration appeared to hanging by a thread after Boris Johnson and David Davis quit her Cabinet over concerns about the Government's new Brexit proposals.

But as Mrs May set about trying to steady the ship, a senior Cabinet minister told the Express & Star there was 'absolutely no appetite' in the Tory ranks for another leadership battle.

The Prime Minister received a rousing reception from Conservative MPs at last night's meeting of the 1922 Committee, and chaired a meeting of her new Cabinet this morning which she described as 'productive'.

And Tory MPs in the Black Country and Staffordshire have leaped to her defence over the controversial Brexit deal, which has angered many of those in the pro-Leave camp.

Defence Secretary and South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson said: "The Prime Minister is putting her best foot forward in making sure we get the best deal with the EU.

"Now is the time to rally behind the Prime Minister and give her our full and total support. That is overwhelmingly what people want to see and that is what we are going to do.

"There is absolutely no appetite for a leadership battle."

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Theresa May's resignations and sackings

Brexiteer Walsall North MP Eddie Hughes is one of a number of Tory backbenchers to have voiced concerns over the detail of Mrs May's Brexit deal, with the full 120-page version not due to be released until Thursday.

Mr Hughes, who was Parliamentary Private Secretary to new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, said he was '100 per cent supportive' of the Prime Minister.

"With our leave date fast approaching we have no time for the mechanisms of a leadership challenge," he said. "It is the last thing we need.

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"I want to see more detail from the Chequers agreement, but I feel reassured that the main issues have been addressed and delivered, including free movement of people.

"It is also heartening to see that preparations are being made for a 'no deal' Brexit. We need to engage with Europe as friends and partners, but they need to know that we are prepared to leave without a deal if need be."

Lichfield MP and Leave supporter Michael Fabricant said he regretted the departure of Boris Johnson from the Cabinet.

"He added life and colour. He prefers the broad picture, the principles, rather than the minutiae," he said.

Mr Fabricant lauded Mrs May's Brexit plan as a 'pragmatic compromise'.

"The biggest problem Theresa May now faces is selling this complex and nuanced proposal to her MPs and the British public," he wrote in an article for The Guardian.

"The deal could be a grand compromise that restores the independence of the UK while boosting our domestic economy. Some will see it as a sell-out and a grand betrayal.

"As an ardent Brexiteer, I go for the former."

Halesowen & Rowley Regis MP James Morris, who backed Remain in the EU referendum, said: “Theresa May has for the last two years been fighting for the United Kingdom and delivering on the referendum result to leave the European Union.

"Over the coming days, weeks and months these negotiations will become more intense as we head towards leaving the EU on March 29, 2019.

"It is absolutely right that we focus now on these important negotiations to get the best possible deal.”

Another Tory Remainer, Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy, argued that the Government had made 'considerable progress' on Brexit.

Asked about the possibility of a vote of no confidence on Mrs May, he said: "I would firmly believe that she would win that."

Aldridge-Brownhills MP Wendy Morton said: "The Prime Minister is showing the same level of resilience that she always does. We need to support her and let her deliver what the country voted for, which is to leave the EU."

Meanwhile prominent Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash said he was 'deeply disappointed' with the Chequers deal, which he said raised concerns that the UK would not get 'a proper Brexit'.

But the Stone MP said he was encouraged that the release of the Government's Brexit white paper had been deferred for more than a week.

He said this was 'possibly because they are re-polishing part of it – which may well be a good sign'.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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