The Prime Minister was addressing Conservative MPs at a meeting of the 1922 Committee when she announced she was prepared to leave Downing Street sooner than planned, if her Brexit deal was passed through Parliament.
She told her party:
“I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations – and I won’t stand in the way of that.
“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t – I hear what you are saying.
“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.
“I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”
Downing Street sources outlined how Prime Minister May’s resignation would unfold.
They said a Conservative leadership election would only commence once Brexit has been delivered. If the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement is passed this week, then the process would begin on May 22, assuming a third meaningful vote is allowed by Speaker John Bercow.
It would then be up to Mrs May’s successor to take control of Brexit’s second phase.
Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn MP responded to the Prime Minister’s pledge: “Theresa May’s pledge to Tory MPs to stand down if they vote for her deal shows once and for all that her chaotic Brexit negotiations have been about party management, not principles or the public interest.
“A change of government can’t be a Tory stitch-up, the people must decide.”
The Prime Minister’s entire premiership has been focused on negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, making the current deadlock in Parliament even more frustrating for her.
It was her frustration that she blamed for her heavily criticised Downing Street address, in which she attacked MPs for the standstill.
For many MPs, this was the beginning of the end for May’s administration.
In the end, she has been forced to make the ultimate political sacrifice in order to get her deal across the line, and it might just be enough to do the job.
ERG leader Jacob Rees-Mogg MP said he would back the withdrawal agreement if the DUP abstained from voting, while an ally of former foreign secretary Boris Johnson says he told MPs there was “little choice” but to vote for the deal.
Tonight the Commons will vote on eight possible Brexit alternatives, as MPs take control of the House in an unprecedented move, in unprecedented times.
The eight Brexit options that MPs will vote on are:
- No Deal
- Norway+ (Common market 2.0)
- Norway (EFTA and EEA)
- Customs union
- Labour’s plan
- Revoke Article 50
- Referendum on deal
- Malthouse Plan B
The Speaker will have extensive online coverage throughout the evening.
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