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Brexit news: Tory MP tells Theresa May 'it's time to step aside' during PMQs ordeal as hopes of breakthrough evaporate

Follow live updates from Westminster, as they happened

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 08 May 2019 16:59 BST
Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns tells Theresa May she should resign

Theresa May is facing renewed pressure from Tory backbenchers to set out a roadmap for her departure as hopes of progress in the cross-party Brexit talks began to fade.

Negotiations with Labour are now in their sixth week but lengthy meetings have resulted in little progress, with Labour sources saying a customs compromise was "a million miles way" from their demands.

Tory backbenchers were due to meet to discuss overhauling party rules to oust Ms May as leader.

Sir Graham Brady, influential chairman of the 1922 committee of backbenchers, told the prime minister to set out a faster timetable for her departure during a private meeting on Tuesday.

See below for live updates


Welcome to The Independent's politics liveblog, where we will be bringing you all the latest updates throughout the day.

Here's our front page from today's app edition:

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 08:32

Conservative MPs on both sides of the Brexit divide are telling Theresa May that a fresh referendum is becoming “inevitable”, as talks with Labour to break the impasse looked set to fail.

The prime minister faced the warning as she suffered the embarrassment of conceding this month’s European elections will go ahead – and as her own deputy suggested the crisis would drag on until July.

As cross-party talks entered their sixth week, Labour’s Keir Starmer insisted he would force the Tories to end their refusal to contemplate a Final Say referendum as the price of a deal, saying it was “crunch time”.

Read our overnight piece here:

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 08:45

Another Tory showdown could be on the cards today as Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 committee of backbench MPs, is expected to set out the outcome of his private talks with Theresa May to his colleagues.

He will address the 1922's weekly meeting today, after holding a meeting with Ms May yesterday to discuss her departure.

The committee's treasurer, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said it was the PM's decision on when she should go but he would "absolutely" support grass roots moves to try to topple her in June if her departure date was not imminent.

When asked what should happen if Mrs May failed to set out her own timetable for departure, he said: "It begins to get much more messy.

"It would be much easier and I think the European elections would be much easier if she did set out her own timetable to go but it is up to her.

"I think it's quite possible they (grass roots members) might vote for no-confidence in June."

Tory MPs are powerless to remove Ms May following a failed bid to boot her out as leader in December last year, led by Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg - but the grass roots are calling for a rule change.

The vote by members at an EGM of the National Conservative Convention in June would not be binding but would add pressure on Mrs May to quit if passed.

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 09:01

Former foreign minister Alistair Burt, who resigned over Brexit in March, said he did not believe Theresa May should be forced to lay out a timetable for her departure.

Mr Burt told the Today programme: "I think the prime minister is well aware of the pressures upon her, but she is very determined to get the first stage of Brexit agreed and I think that's the right thing to do.

"It's essential we get progress on this and I think the PM is determined to do that."

Mr Burt said a compromise deal with Labour "does not seem particularly likely".

But he added: "Colleagues in the House have to appreciate if we can't get this through, we run down to October with some very difficult choices about no-deal, revoke or second referendum, all of which are unpalatable to many MPs of whatever party.

"It is much better to get an agreement through and then we can start on the next phase of the Brexit process - to leave, but to leave well."

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 09:12

Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, has suggested she may enter the leadership race to succeed Theresa May - after withdrawing from the race in 2016. 

Asked if she would stand to replace the PM, Ms Leadsom said: "I've supported her for the last three years to get Brexit over the line.

"She has said she is going, so yes I am seriously considering standing."

But she insisted she was "sticking with the prime minister" to deliver on Brexit.

She also dismissed Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party as "a one trick pony" when asked about their surge in the polls.

Ms Leadsom told GMB: "They are about leaving the EU and actually they would find if they were in government which they wouldn't be - how do they get to be in government - if they were in government they could not deliver this with this parliamentary arithmetic any more than the current government can." 

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 09:30

Ministers are pressing ahead with the multi-billion pound restoration of parliament after warning the Notre Dame cathedral fire "brings home sharply" fears of a similar tragedy.

Andrea Leadsom will introduce a Commons bill on Wednesday to create an Olympics-style independent body to oversee the refurbishment, which could see MPs and peers decamp from the Palace of Westminster for several years.

MPs voted in favour of a "full decant" last year, following warnings the iconic structure is at serious risk from flood or fire due to plumbing and cabling going back to the 19th Century.

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 09:48

Another developing story today - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to warn Theresa May over plans to involve Chinese tech giant Huawei in the UK's 5G telecoms network when he meets her at Downing Street.

Mr Pompeo is the first member of Donald Trump's administration to speak face-to-face with the PM and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt since last month's National Security Council agreed to consider Huawai's involvement.

Washington is urging allies against allowing Huawei to play part in sensitive infrastructure programmes, over fears it could allow China's communist regime to spy on the West.

"We've made clear that if the risk exceeds the threshold for the United States, we simply won't be able to share that information any longer," Mr Pompeo said last month.

He is also expected to step up US pressure on the UK to isolate Iran in talks today.

He made a surprise visit to Iraq immediately before his trip to London, assuring Baghdad that the US opposes other states "interfering in their country" and stands ready "to ensure that Iraq is a sovereign, independent nation".

Mr Trump last year unilaterally pulled the US out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, but the UK and other European powers have refused to follow his lead.

It comes as Iran warned it will resume uranium enrichment unless the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal - France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia - can show it is worth pursuing.

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 10:04

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will meet for prime minister's questions at noon today, where both will be keen to avoid discussing their local election performances last week.

These are the lucky MPs with questions to the PM today:

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 10:20

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has attacked one of Labour's key demands in the Brexit talks, saying a customs union would be "bad for Britain" and leave access to the UK's markets as a "commodity" to be traded by Brussels.

Speaking at a conference in London, he said: "The EU would be able to make access to the UK market part of their offer in any trade agreement and we would find ourselves in a unique position in our trading history in that we would be being traded.

"We would be a commodity in that particular agreement, where the EU would be able to offer access to the UK as part of their offer.

"It's a situation that would leave the UK as a rule taker and in terms of our ability to shape trade policy would probably leave us in a worse situation than we are today, inside the EU."

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 10:29

Over at the home affairs committee, Yvette Cooper is giving the ministers a very hard time about knife crime.

The Labour chairwoman accuses the Home Office of having "no sense of the scale of the problem" after minister Victoria Atkins and Dan Greaves, the official leading serious violence strategy, could not give her an idea of how many young people are at risk.

"Do you even know how many young people your own funded interventions are going to reach?" she asks sternly.

"I am just quite baffled when you have got something as serious as this. When you have got a 70% increase in knife crime in the last 4 years, when you have got a 93% increase in the number of children attending A&E who have been stabbed in the last 6 years, when you have got a 37% increase in homicide, I'm just baffled that you don't have a basic assessment of the number of young people who are at risk - and then have an assessment of what your policies are doing to help young people."

Ms Atkins cites examples of when young people are caught up in a "postcode war" who would not be on the radar of police. She says officials spend a lot of time looking at what is being done locally.

Cooper dismisses her response, saying she has no sense ministers have a "grip" on the problem.

Lizzy Buchan8 May 2019 10:46

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