Wednesday 20 February 2019

Theresa May vows to 'see Brexit plan through': 'I am going to get the best deal for Britain'

Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans Credit: Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May holds a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London, to discuss her Brexit plans Credit: Matt Dunham/PA Wire
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said that leadership "is about making the right decisions, not the easy ones".

In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, she responded to media questions about her current position of power in Government.

"Am I going to see this through? Yes," May said. "I am going to my job of getting the best deal for Britain and I'm going to my job of getting a deal that is in the national interest."

"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," May said.

Mrs May said that her approach "has been to put the national interest first" and that "I have not put my own political interest first".

"If we do not move forward with the agreement we do not know the consequences that will follow...I want to honour the vote of the referendum," she said.

"This is a complex decision...there is no deal that can be agreed with the EU that does not involved a backstop".

She also said that there will not be a second referendum, but that she did not not regret calling a general election last year.

Mrs May has been battling to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest earlier today.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit just over 12 hours after she announced cabinet had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, saying they could not support it.

Junior Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, junior Brexit minister Suella Braverman, two parliamentary private secretaries, and two other aides also subsequently stepped down.

Their departure led some lawmakers in London to openly question whether Mrs May's government will survive.

"My colleagues must do what they believe to be right just as I do...I'm sorry that they have chosen to leave the government," she said.

The prime minister showed little sign of backing down in parliament earlier today, where she warned lawmakers they now faced a stark decision.

"The choice 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," she said.

She said that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 and will not suspend the process of leaving.

"We will not extend Article 50," May told parliament, when asked about the clause in the EU's Lisbon Treaty which allows for countries to leave the bloc.

Mrs May also said she shared the concerns of those who believe a Brexit backstop to avoid a border on the island of Ireland impinges on British sovereignty, but it was an improvement on previous proposals.

"The references to the backstop do raise some difficult issues," May told parliament.

"I fully accept that across the house, there are concerns in relation to the backstop. Indeed, I share some of those concerns," she said.

More to follow...

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