ONE-TIME leading Brexiteers in the cabinet, now ‘turncoats’, have rallied behind Theresa May amid attempts to unseat her by Tory MPs. Michael Gove said he ‘absolutely’ had confidence in May as he confirmed he would not be following several other ministers out of the door.
Liam Fox urged MPs to support the PM’s draft Brexit agreement, saying a ‘deal was better than no deal’. It came as more Conservatives expressed unhappiness with May’s leadership and urged a confidence vote.
So far about 20 Tories have publicly stated they have submitted letters of no confidence in the PM over her handling of Brexit. The number needed is 48. One of those to do so, ex-minister Mark Francois, said the draft agreement negotiated by May with the EU was ‘truly awful’ and the prime minister ‘just doesn’t listen’ to concerns within her party.
Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker said the number of letters submitted, he believed, was ‘close’ to 48 and a contest was ‘imminent’. He suggested the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs, headed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, would ‘collectively agree’ which single candidate was best-placed to deliver the Brexit they wanted and back them.
Yesterday Gove turned coat once again and swore allegiance to May. Asked if he had confidence in the PM, Mr Gove said: ‘I absolutely do’ He added: ‘I’m also looking forward to continuing to work with all my government colleagues and all my colleagues in parliament in order to make sure that we get the best future for Britain.’
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said in Bristol: ‘We are not elected to do what we want to do, but to do what is in the national interest.’ He added: ‘I hope across parliament we recognise that a deal is better than no deal, and businesses require certainty – it’s in our national interest to provide certainty as soon as possible.’