LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May is using the “optimism” of US President Donald Trump over a post-Brexit trade deal to face down a growing Tory rebellion among Cabinet colleagues and backbenchers.
May later said the UK would embrace “old friends and new partners” in an apparent rebuke to Chancellor Philip Hammond, who said Britain distancing itself from traditional European trading partners would be “madness.”
She said: “Britain has always been a great trading nation and as we leave the EU we will seize the exciting opportunities to strike deals with old friends and new partners.
“I’ve held a number of meetings with other world leaders at this summit and have been struck by their strong desire to forge ambitious new bilateral trading relationships with the UK after Brexit.
“This is a powerful vote of confidence in British goods, British services, Britain’s economy and the British people and we look forward to building on these conversations.
“The reaction I’ve got from other world leaders is the optimism they show … [about] our future trade arrangements.”
Her comments came as three former ministers — Ed Vaizey, Dominic Grieve and Nicky Morgan — told the Telegraph May should reconsider her determination to leave the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit, and her premiership continues to be dogged by leadership speculation.
She reportedly intends to relaunch her government with a speech next week which sets out her plan for delivering Brexit.