British Prime Minister Theresa May: Ousting me risks delaying Brexit

Andrea Leadsome Michael Gove and Liam Fox

British Prime Minister Theresa May enters another tense week facing a direct threat to her power from the Tory hardline Brexit faction.

She had managed to secure cabinet approval for the draft Brexit deal after a five-hour meeting at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, but it was followed by a string of high-profile resignations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party could get a better deal in time for Brexit.

May says the next seven days will be critical, and they climax at a European leaders' summit next weekend, after May spends time in Brussels working on the final political declaration about Britain's future trading relationship with the EU.

The Prime Minister warned that a change of leadership would not make it easier to get a deal past parliament or the European Union, after furious Brexiteer backbenchers started moves to remove her.

The prime minister also may key replacements which would stabilise her position, handing the role of work and pensions secretary to ally and remain voter Amber Rudd, who went full-force on the defensive for May, telling the BBC that any MPs thinking of submitting letters of no confidence should "think again".

Sir Graham said he found the suggestion he had received 48 letters but not acted on it to be "slightly offensive".

Speaking on Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News, May said she had spoken to Brady at the end of last week and to her knowledge the 48 letters needed to spark a no confidence vote in her leadership had not yet been reached.

The backstop arrangements have been agreed with the bloc and would come into effect in the event of no trade deal by the end of the transition period to stop an alleged "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

"The UK could theoretically ask for an extension until 2099 but an 80-year extension might upset people a little bit", said one European Union diplomat after the meeting on Sunday morning.

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The DUP, a small Northern Irish party which props up May's minority government, has threatened to pull its support if the backstop means the province is treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.

"As far as I know, no, it has not", May told Sky News, when asked if the threshold had been met for a formal leadership contest, Reuters reported.

While he said he would back her in any leadership challenge, he refused to rule out whether he would make a pitch for the Tory leadership, saying: "I'm not going to get sucked into that".

Other mutinous lawmakers in her party have openly spoken of ousting her and said bluntly that the Brexit deal would not pass parliament.

He said he did not know who had inserted a clause on customs relations into the future partnership document but said it was a "clear breach" of the Conservative manifesto.

Dominic Raab, who quit as Brexit secretary on Thursday over the draft deal, said it was "fatally flawed" but could be remedied by just "two or three points" being changed.

"I still think a deal could be done, but it is very late in the day now and we need to change course", Raab told the BBC. "The biggest risk of no deal is taking a bad deal to the House of is very important to take the action now".

If Labour and other opposition MPs all vote in line with what their party leaders said Sunday, and Conservative rebels join them, the government could lose the parliamentary vote - throwing the Brexit process into further disarray.

It sets up a blind Brexit with no idea of what lies ahead.

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