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UK public swings behind Brexit deal - but Tories keep in-fighting


British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A new poll suggests that almost half of British adults believe Theresa May should remain as UK prime minister at least until Britain leaves the European Union.

The survey, by ComRes for the Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express, found 47pc support for May to carry on until Brexit is due to happen in March - including 75pc of Conservative voters.

A third (33pc) of those polled believe she should quit before Brexit. However, there was a more even split when the poll asked if she should carry on "for the foreseeable future", with 38pc saying she should and 41pc saying go.

There was bad news for some of her possible challengers, however, with just 8pc of voters wanting Michael Gove to take over if May steps down.

High profile Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg fared better with 17pc support, while Boris Johnson was backed by 21pc of those polled - but he was also the most actively opposed, with 61pc against his appointment.

The survey of 2,000 adults carried out on Wednesday and Thursday at the height of a chaotic week in UK politics saw the Tories drop three points to 36pc, while Labour remained on 40pc, compared to a comparative poll in September.

But there was less good news for Labour, with the survey finding only 25pc of British people want to see an immediate general election.

It also found a second referendum would be a close call, with Remain beating Leave by 45pc to 43pc, with 10pc of respondents saying they had "had enough of Brexit and wouldn't vote". This was despite 53pc of those polled saying there should not be a second referendum.

Meanwhile the UK House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom has said there is still time for "more to be done" on the Brexit deal as the Tories continue to argue over May's withdrawal deal with Brussels.

The Brexiteer Commons leader said she supports May - but suggested there is an opportunity before a special European Council meeting on November 25 to get "the best possible deal for the UK".

Leadsom leads a group of Brexiteer Cabinet ministers who want to tweak the deal - but that possibility was last night shot down by Simon Coveney, in a podcast from the Fine Gael Ard Fheis.

The Foreign Minister said pro-Brexit British ministers are "not living in the real world" if they think they can renegotiate the divorce treaty agreed last week.

"This idea that now after two years of negotiation, somehow four or five cabinet ministers can negotiate a different outcome and agree it themselves, and then expect the EU to just sign up to that, I just think it's not living in the real world," Coveney told a podcast recorded by the Irish Times at his party's annual conference.

At the end of a bruising week for Theresa May, she yesterday used an interview to tell her critics their alternative plans for Brexit would not solve the main problem - the Northern Ireland/Ireland border backstop arrangement.

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She added: "People say, 'If you could only just do something slightly different, have a Norway model or a Canada model, this backstop issue would go away'. It would not. That issue is still going to be there. Some politicians get so embroiled in the intricacies of their argument they forget it is not about this theory or that theory, or 'does it make me look good?'."

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