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Theresa May leaves EU talks with no Brexit progress and furious MPs

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  • Theresa May leaves Brussels with no significant
    progress in Brexit talks.
  • The UK prime minister is under pressure to break key
    Brexit promises in order to get a deal.
  • Conservative MPs on all sides of the party are losing
    patience with her leadership.
  • One MP, Johnny Mercer, described his party as a
    “shitshow” and said he wouldn’t vote for it if he wasn’t an
    MP.

 

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – Theresa May returns to Westminster on Friday
facing one of the most dangerous weeks of her premiership, with
Conservative MPs from all sides of the party losing patience in
her handling of Brexit.

The prime minister leaves the European Council Summit in Brussels
with little to show other than a controversial suggestion
that 12 months could be added to the proposed 21-month transition
period to deliver an orderly exit.

Conservative MPs reacted furiously to this on Thursday. Nick
Boles, who up until now has been relatively supportive of May,
said the news had pushed Tories “close to despair.” Pro-Brexit
MPs made fresh calls for May to be ousted.

The fury continued into Friday, with The Times predicting
the most perilous week of her [May’s] premiership.”

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis is reportedly angling for a
leadership challenge backed by angry pro-Brexit MPs like Nadine
Dorries, who openly called for Davis to replace May on Thursday.

In an extraordinary interview
with The House magazine
, pro-Remain MP Tory Johnny Mercer
described the government as a “s***how” and said he wouldn’t vote
Conservative or at all if he wasn’t an MP. 

May will today be encouraged by reports that French
President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
want the EU to be “more flexible” and create a Brexit that deal
could be palatable for Brexiteers in London.

However, even if Brussels commits to May’s preferred UK-wide
customs union backstop in the Brexit deal, there will almost
certainly be a backstop keeping Northern Ireland in the single
market and customs union.

The UK and EU believe they can reach a deal which includes the
Northern Ireland-only backstop but is acceptable for the
Democratic Unionist Party. This is just one of many huge risks
May will have to take in the coming weeks.

In a press conference on Thursday, the prime minister also
appeared to kill Brexiteer hope that the backstop would be
time-limited, refusing to deny reports that she privately told
Ireland there’d be no fixed end date.

The time-limit issue is a big deal for Brexiteers. They believe
failure to include one in the final Withdrawal Agreement risks
trapping Britain in a long-term if not permanent customs
union with the EU.

Business Insider reported last
week 

that three ministers — Andrea Leadsom, Penny
Mordaunt and Esther McVey — are all poised to quit if May doesn’t
deliver a fix end date for the backstop.

In Brussels, the expectation is if there is a deal, it won’t be
ready to be signed off until the European Council’s December
summit, leaving parliaments there and in Westminster just weeks
to scrutinise and vote on it.

Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain’s departure from the EU, direct from Business Insider’s political reporters. Join here.

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