Theresa May's 'last chance' Brexit deal backfires as Tories urge her to abandon vote and quit

  • Theresa May has haemorrhaged support since revealing her “new deal” on Brexit on Tuesday.
  • The offer, which includes the possibility of enabling a second referendum on Brexit has triggered dozens of Conservative members of parliament to abandon the prime minister.
  • Conservative MPs are piling the pressure on May to quit rather than hold a fourth vote on her deal.
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LONDON – Theresa May is under growing pressure to quit after the “new deal” she offered parliament on Brexit caused a haemorrhage of support among Conservative members of parliament.

Dozens of previously loyal Tory MPs abandoned the prime minister on Tuesday evening following her offer to enable a vote on a second referendum, if the House of Commons backs her deal.

More than 60 Conservative MPs are openly planning to rebel against the prime minister if the vote takes place at the start of next month, with all opposition parties also committed to rejecting it.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove on Wednesday morning suggested that the government might not put the revised deal to a House of Commons vote at all due size of opposition to it.

“We will reflect over the course of the next few days on how people look at the proposition put forward,” he told BBC Radfio 4.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who backed the prime minister’s deal in March, said there was “nothing new or bold about this bad buffet of non-Brexit options.”

“I can’t see that we’ve taken back control over anything. The backstop is still there, it’s a customs union in all but name and it puts Brussels firmly in control of our destiny,” he added.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted: “I supported the PM’s rotten deal last time as I felt we could then draw a line and select a new PM to pick up the pieces.”

“But I cannot support this convoluted mess. That it takes us towards a rigged referendum between her deal and no Brexit is just grotesque. The PM must go.”

Boris Johnson, who also backed May’s deal at its third vote and is widely tipped to succeed May as prime minister, said he could no longer support her deal.

“With great reluctance I backed MV3,” Johnson tweeted.

“Now we are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum. The Bill is directly against our manifesto – and I will not vote for it. We can and must do better – and deliver what the people voted for.”

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Berwick-Upon-Tweed MP who also supported the prime minister’s deal in March, said the prime minister’s deal still contained “the dreaded backstop, endangering our Union and selling out the people of Northern Ireland,” and said she was also likely to vote against it.

The exodus of support has led to speculation that May could be forced to quit before holding the vote on her deal.

The executive of the 1922 Committee will meet on Wednesday afternoon under renewed pressure to change party rules to allow an early leadership election.

The row comes on the eve of the European Parliament elections in which May’s party are expected to come as low as fifth place.

A YouGov opinion poll out on Wednesday puts the party on just 7%, behind the Green Party. If borne out on Thursday, it would be the worst electoral performance by a UK governing party in history.

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