Business backs May’s Brexit deal as rebels plot no confidence vote

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the media in Salzburg, Austria, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert - UP1EE7R16W8PE

British PM Theresa May wins support from exasperated executives for her deal, as 42 lawmakers reportedly submit no confidence letters, short of 48 needed.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May gestures as she takes a question after speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference in central London, on November 19, 2018.
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May gestures as she takes a question after speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry conference in central London, on November 19, 2018. (AFP)

Embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit sales pitch won plaudits from the British business community on Monday, but executives said the political drama surrounding her survival was proving a damaging distraction.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) annual conference in London, May vowed to stick to her draft European Union divorce deal as dissenting lawmakers in her own party tried to trigger a leadership challenge, ahead of “intense negotiations” with Brussels in the coming week.

May told the CBI, the UK’s main business lobby group, that she was “determined to deliver” her Brexit deal as she prepares for Sunday’s European Council summit to sign Britain’s divorce papers.

“We now have an intense week of negotiations ahead of us,” she told some 1,000 business leaders at the CBI annual conference in central London.

“During that time I expect us to hammer out the full and final details of the framework that will underpin our future relationship.

“I am confident that we can strike a deal at the Council that I can take back to the House of Commons.”

TRT World‘s Simon McGregor-Wood has more.

Strong message to opponents 

“I thought she was very good. I must admit I have been blinded by everything that has come out over the last few days and I felt actually she explained it from a high level that made sense,” said Steven Cochran, Head of Products at Allied Irish Bank UK.

May used her speech to send a message to her critics who have spent days plotting her downfall since the draft deal was agreed with Brussels: “Let no one be in any doubt – I am determined to deliver it.”

That steadfast message resonated with delegates, triggering extended applause.

“There’s a huge amount of personal recognition for what she’s managed to achieve, what’s she’s been through and the fact she’s still upbeat – that always gets respect from business people,” said Adam Green, Chief Risk Officer at Equiniti, a financial services firm.

One attendee was booed when he criticised May’s approach in a question to her after the speech.

May face no-confidence vote

Eurosceptics in May’s Conservative Party have been submitting letters calling for a vote of no confidence in their leader, saying the exit deal she has tentatively agreed leaves Britain tied to the EU indefinitely and betrays a 2016 referendum vote to quit the bloc.

Opponents of May are six letters short of the threshold to trigger a no confidence vote.

British media are reporting that 42 lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party had given firm assurances that they had submitted no-confidence letters, short of the 48 needed.

Reports say 25 MPs had publicly declared they have submitted letters while a further 17 have privately said they have written to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee, who’s in charge of overseeing leadership challenges.

UK conservative lawmaker Simon Clarke said today will be “a crucial day for May’s future.”

Clarke said, “if we continue with this Brexit plan we shall simply not have a government as dup will not support it.”

May: Ousting me would risk delaying Brexit

May said on Sunday toppling her would risk delaying Brexit and she would not let talk of a leadership challenge distract her from a critical week of negotiations with Brussels.

In the days since she unveiled a draft EU divorce deal, May’s premiership has been thrust into crisis.

Several ministers, including her Brexit minister, have resigned and many of her lawmakers seeking to oust her.

More than two years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, it is still unclear how, on what terms or even if it will leave as planned on March 29, 2019.

May has vowed to fight on, but with both pro-EU and pro-Brexit lawmakers unhappy with the draft agreement, it is not clear if she will be able to win the backing of parliament for it, raising the risk of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

“These next seven days are going to be critical, they are about the future of this country,” May told Sky News. “I am not going to be distracted from the important job.”

“A change of leadership at this point isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier … what it will do is mean that there is a risk that actually we delay the negotiations and that is a risk that Brexit gets delayed or frustrated.”

Source: Reuters