May bids to "sell" Brexit plan as opposition party voices concerns
LONDON, July 8 (Xinhua) -- After winning backing from her entire team of ministers for her controversial Brexit plan, Prime Minister Theresa May was Sunday making preparations to sell her deal to her backbenchers in the House of Commons on Monday.
If winning over her "generals" at her Chequers summit meeting on Friday was a victory, May will face her foot soldiers, aware from comments in the Sunday newspapers, that some are in the mood to be seen more as storm troopers.
Supporters of a harder Brexit within her team of cabinet ministers emerged from Chequers supporting the plan May wants to send to negotiators in Brussels on the terms of a future trade deal she wants with the European Union.
But some critics of May's soft-Brexit plan say it smacks more of a Brino-deal, Brexit In Name Only.
The Sunday Times (ST) reported that May has told Brussels to "get serious" about Brexit negotiations, but is facing a concerted effort by hardline Eurosceptics to oust her.
Rebel Brexiteers have broken cover, saying they would submit formal letters demanding a leadership contest, accusing May of orchestrating a sell-out to Brussels, the ST claimed.
In a message to Brexit voters, May said that her package would fulfill her pledges to take back control of Britain's borders, laws and money, declaring: "I won't let you down," the ST added.
The ST said some MPs have contacted Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Conservative MPs, urging him to run for the leadership, with one politician commenting: "He's our Churchill".
Confronting those who want a leadership challenge, the prime minister told The Sunday Times: "The only challenge that needs to be made now is to the European Union to get serious about this, to come round the table and discuss it with us."
Rees-Mogg has already commented publicly that he is waiting to see the fuller details of May's deal, due to be published Monday, but he has indicated he would vote against the plan.
He said: "A very soft Brexit means that we haven't left, we are simply a rule-taker. That is not something that this country voted for, it is not what the prime minister promised."
In a television interview Sunday the Environment Secretary Michael Gove urged Conservative MPs to back May's compromise Brexit plan as the best chance of a proper exit from the EU.
Describing himself as a realist, Gove said it was not all he hoped for, but dismissed claims it would leave Britain as a "vassal state" of Europe.
He warned the EU had to be more generous or Britain would have no option than to walk away without a deal.
The Independent newspaper Sunday also reported the prospect of May facing the threat of a leadership contest amid mounting anger from Brexiteers over her government's Brexit policy.
It said Eurosceptics are reported to be circulating a draft statement calling for May to go, with some publicly backing Jacob Rees-Mogg as her replacement at 10 Downing Street.
The Independent carried details of the draft statement in which May is accused of "complete capitulation" concluding with the message: "In the interests of our country and the future of Conservative Party, I feel the time has come for a new leader."
A leadership battle would be triggered if 48 Conservative MPs sign and send in the letter to the 1922 Committee, which represents all of party's backbench politicians in the House of Commons.
Commentators say the fear of a challenge to May is that it could bring down her Conservative government and pave the way for Jeremy Corbyn to move into Downing Street as leader of a Labor government.
To add to May's woes, Keir Starmer, Brexit spokesman for the main opposition Labor Party said they would vote against the type of Brexit deal being pursued by May.
According to the Independent, Starmer's comments Sunday fuels doubts about the government's ability to get its plans through Parliament.
The shadow Brexit secretary said the strategy agreed by the cabinet at Chequers on Friday did not meet Labor's six tests for securing its support.