The start of a piece in today’s Sunday Times:
Forty MPs have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence in Theresa May as European Union negotiators threaten to block trade talks until March unless Britain agrees to settle the Brexit divorce bill.
The embattled prime minister is facing a fight on three fronts following another week of Tory turmoil in which Priti Patel become the second cabinet minister to resign and two other cabinet ministers — Damian Green and Boris Johnson — faced pressure to quit.
May now faces a “make or break” month as:
● Senior European politicians and officials warn that the talks are entering a “crisis mode” as a preliminary deal will probably not be reached in December, as previously expected, but could instead be postponed until March
● Plotters reveal that 40 Conservative MPs — eight short of the number required to force a leadership challenge — have joined a list of Tory rebels who want her to resign
● The EU withdrawal bill returns to the Commons on Tuesday with Labour expected to join Tory rebels to inflict a series of damaging defeats on the government.
Today Jeremy Corbyn issues an ultimatum to the prime minister and tells her to “govern or go” as she “shows every sign of being in office but not in power”.
In an article for The Sunday Times, the Labour leader accuses her of being too weak to deliver Brexit and claims the chaos surrounding her “crumbling” government risks “dangerously weakening Britain’s hand” in the talks.
“Continuing uncertainty about the government’s approach to Brexit is now the biggest risk facing our country,” he writes. “The prime minister must end the confusion, take on the ‘no-deal’ extremists in her government and back a jobs-first Brexit for Britain.”
Privately some Tory MPs and ministers agree with Corbyn and fear May has become a liability to the Brexit process. They are discussing whether the party needs a period in opposition to reinvent itself.
One minister said: “It’s a horrible thing to say . . . but we are getting closer and closer to the point whereby we need some time in opposition to regroup.” [J4MB emphasis]
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