Veteran Eurosceptic, Sir Bill Cash, has urged the Prime Minister to quit after EU leaders agreed another delay to Britain’s departure from the European Union.
The PM and her 27 EU counterparts last night agreed that Britain’s exit day would be pushed back until 31 October, despite Mrs May having proposed a 30 June cut-off.
Accusing the Prime Minister of triggering “anger” with an “abject surrender”, the Sir Bill asked her: “Having broken promises 100 times… does she accept that this withdrawal agreement undermines our democracy, the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, the right to govern ourselves, control over our laws, and undermines our national interest?
And, to audible gasps in the Commons chamber, he added: “Will she resign?”
But Mrs May shot back: “I think you know the answer to that.”
The new arrangement allows the UK the option of cutting short the extension at any time should the Prime Minister manage to persuade MPs to back a variation of her Brexit deal before the Hallowe’en deadline.
She told the Commons on Thursday: “I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed.
“I never wanted to seek this extension – and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way.”
The Prime Minister urged MPs to use the upcoming Easter recess – back on the agenda after a threat to call it off over Brexit – “to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return”.
But Mrs May faced a barrage of criticism from Brexiteers on her own side over both the fresh delay and ongoing talks with Labour – described today as “serious, detailed and ongoing” by Jeremy Corbyn.
Eurosceptic Steve Baker said: “Of course the Government continues in office thanks to the support of our confidence and supply partners [the DUP]. In the event that the withdrawal agreement is pushed through unamended over the heads of those partners, will the Prime Minister be seeking the confidence of the Labour Party?”
Fellow Brexiteer Marc Francois blasted: “Perseverance is a virtue, but sheer obstinacy is not.”
Meanwhile the DUP’s Nigel Dodds – whose party has voted against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal three times – urged Mrs May to take a tougher line with the EU.
He demanded: “Can the Prime Minister please examine where she’s going with all of this, learn the lessons and come back with something that can actually get a majority in this House?”
But other Conservative MPs rallied around the embattled Prime Minister – with former minister Sarah Newton urging her to “ignore the bullies on our backbenches and stick to your guns and deliver that Brexit”.
And Remain-backing Tory grandee Ken Clarke called on Mrs May to “stick to her commitment” to stay on through the EU divorce talks – and urged her to “ignore some of the vicious attacks being made upon her by her more extreme right-wing colleagues”.
Jeremy Corbyn also took aim at Mrs May for the fresh delay, which comes just three weeks after she told MPs she was not prepared to delay Brexit beyond 30 June.
“This second extension in the space of a fortnight represents not only a diplomatic failure, but is another milestone in the government’s mishandling of the entire Brexit process,” he said.
But the Labour leader described talks with the Government, aimed at breaking the Commons deadlock, as “serious, detailed and ongoing” – and blasted Conservative MPs angry at the suggestion the Prime Minister could soften her stance on the EU’s customs union to get her deal through.
“If these talks are to be a success resulting in an agreement that can bring our country back together, the Government will have to compromise,” he said.
In a direct plea to her own party, Mrs May said the talks were “not the normal way of British politics”.
And she said: “Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises.
“But however challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both frontbenches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for.
“And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.”