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Under-fire Theresa May says she is ‘determined’ to see Brexit through



Theresa May has said she is “determined” to deliver Brexit, as she launched a fightback against attempts to get rid of her.

The prime minister said leaving the EU was “never going to be easy or straightforward”, particularly the closing stages of negotiations.

“But we have in view a deal that will work for the UK,” Mrs May said in a speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in London.

:: MPs who have sent letters of no confidence

Theresa May told the CBI her draft deal will 'work for the UK'


Brexit deal ‘will work for the UK’ – May

“And let no one be in any doubt, I am determined to deliver it.”

The defiant tone from the PM comes as speculation continues that a vote of no confidence in her leadership could be imminent.

A total of 48 Conservative MPs – 15% of the parliamentary party – need to submit letters for such a contest to take place.

According to our tally, 24 MPs have confirmed they have done so.

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Transition period cannot be indefinite – Barnier

However, there are suggestions the immediate danger to the PM has receded, compared to the peril she appeared to be in last week.

And in an attempt to take back control of the agenda, Mrs May delivered a hard-hitting speech on immigration, one of the key issues of the referendum campaign.

She said the new post-Brexit system – which will be based on workers’ skills rather than where they come from – would stop workers from the European Union being able to “jump the queue”.

And on Brexit more generally, she said it was not an exercise in “political theory”, but something that affects people’s livelihoods.

“Jobs depend on us getting this right,” the PM said.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey talks to Sarah-Jane Mee about Labour's position on the PM's withdrawal agreement.


PM needs to withdraw ‘botched’ Brexit agreement

“And what we have agreed unashamedly puts our future economic success, and the livelihoods of working families up and down this country, first.”

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said the agreement struck with the EU was a “compromise”, but represented “hard-won progress”.

However, she was critical of Mrs May’s rhetoric on immigration.

Ms Fairbairn said companies needed time to adapt to a “seismic shift” in the system – and claimed Downing Street was not listening to business concerns.

NHS recruiters also expressed worries the new system could affect the supply of overseas nurses and carers.

Jeremy Corbyn


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Downing Street said a white paper setting out the new system would be published “shortly” – and defended the government’s approach.

“We have always been clear of the important contribution which EU citizens make to our economy and to public services,” the PM’s spokesman said.

“The point the prime minister is making is that we wish to have a global system where people’s skills are the basis on which they are able to work in the UK.

“At the moment, we have two systems in place – one for people coming to the UK from outside the EU and one for people coming out under the rules of free movement.”

In Brussels, EU negotiator Michel Barnier it was a “key moment” in Brexit and urged all sides to keep “calm”.

Theresa May


May: I’ve never thought about giving up

A prospect that has emerged in recent weeks is for the transition period – due to last from the end of March to the end of 2020 – being extended.

This would allow both sides more time to negotiate what Britain’s future relationship with the EU will look like, without needing to implement the controversial Irish border backstop.

There has been speculation a one-off extension could last until the end of 2022.

But Mrs May said she wanted it to be finished by the time of the next election in June 2022.

Mr Barnier said an extension could not be “indefinite”, with a deadline being decided in talks this week.

Ahead of a summit on Sunday where EU leaders are set to sign off on the withdrawal agreement, both London and Brussels have been at pains to point out that it cannot be renegotiated.

Mrs May said on Monday that the agreement had been “agreed in full” by both sides.

But David Davis, a former Brexit secretary who quit the PM’s government in protest at her handling of Britain’s EU exit, said the deal on offer was “not what the people voted for”.

He said: It will tie us to the customs union for years to come with no way out.

“But there is still time to negotiate a Canada+++ deal that delivers on the referendum. So let’s get on with it.”

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who followed Mr Davis out of the exit door in the summer, yet again hit out at the PM.

In his regular Daily Telegraph column, he described her agreement as a “585-page fig leaf (that) does nothing to cover the embarrassment of our total defeat”.

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