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Conservative MP says 'we have to change prime minister' if policy not overhauled

Theresa May delivers Brexit statement to MPs

A Conservative MP has warned that the party must either change Theresa May's Brexit policy or change the prime minister.

Andrew Bridgen, who had submitted a letter of no confidence in Ms May earlier this summer, added he had not changed his mind over her leadership.

His remarks came as the prime minister convened her cabinet on Tuesday morning, telling her top team they will be given a weekly update on Britain's preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

A spokesman for the prime minister told journalists at a regular briefing: “As we move towards exit day, it makes sense that all ministers are informed all that’s taking place in relation to all scenarios.”

He explained that the briefings would take in what preparations and developments are taking place both in relation to no-deal planning and also for planning for a deal.

On Tuesday Mr Raab told ministers that “good progress” was being made, but it comes amid concern that the UK is not ready for the March 29 2019 departure day.

The meeting came as the Prime Minister faced increasing pressure for a breakthrough in talks with the EU, after last week's summit ended with no deal.

Mrs May told MPs on Monday that the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the EU were 95% agreed but the "sticking point" remained the issue of the Irish border.

On Wednesday - after prime minister's questions - Ms May will also attend the 1922 committee of Conservative backbench MPs

It means the prime minister will have to speak to and take questions from her backbenchers behind closed doors with many of them said to be plotting her downfall.

Please see below The Independent's live coverage of today in Westminster
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Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of events in Westminster today.

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Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative MP, who submitted a letter of no confidence in Theresa May in July, said: "We either change the PM's policy or we have to change the PM."

Mr Bridgen said he understood that, if 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady receives the 48 letters needed to trigger a confidence ballot, he would first call each of the MPs involved to check whether they wish to withdraw their letter. He confirmed he would not change his mind.

He played down the prospect of Ms May being toppled by the votes of fewer than 158 Tory MPs - 50% of the total. In the past, as few as 70-100 negative votes would be enough to force her to stand down, but a "new paradigm" had been created by the survival of Jeremy Corbyn when many of his MPs have no confidence in him, said Mr Bridgen.

"Toppling the PM isn't the only solution," he added. "The PM could pivot away from the Chequers deal which is deeply unpopular in the country and doesn't deliver the Brexit we promised."

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Leo Varadkar, the Irish PM, has said the UK Government will not want to move away from its commitments to the backstop agreement.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said: "From our point of view, what Ireland is looking for is what we have always been looking for from day one and what has been committed to by us and the UK Government in principle and in writing on a number of occasions now.

"That is, we have a backstop that gives us an assurance that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland no matter what happens, that that backstop is legally operable and that applies unless and until there is a new agreement.

"That is something that the UK Government has committed to in principle, committed to in writing, and I have every confidence that the UK Government will honour that commitment.

"Britain is an important country, a serious country, a great country with great history. I don't think they will want to be moving away from their commitment."

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