May’s Brexit Crisis 1) Does the ERG have the numbers and coherence to bring May down?

“In his missive Mr Rees-Mogg said that Mrs May’s deal “has turned out to be worse than anticipated and fails to meet the promises given to the nation by the prime minister, either on her own account or on behalf of us all in the Conservative Party manifesto”. He held an impromptu press conference on the steps of parliament after a meeting of more than 30 ERG MPs, including Boris Johnson, that lasted more than an hour. Along with Mr Baker, Mr Rees-Mogg explained why they were submitting letters and urged others to consider doing the same… Claims that Mrs May would face a challenge by lunchtime proved wide of the mark. By last night the total number of MPs who had publicly claimed to have delivered letters was 17; 31 short of the necessary 48. Last night some ERG members were suggesting that the intention was to drip-feed the letters over the next couple of days. Others detected a note of panic among those whose coup was failing. Watching the events from a Whitehall office, one cabinet minister was unimpressed: “Rees-Mogg looking very lonely,” they said, questioning whether he had the support to launch a successful coup. “You and whose army?”” – The Times


  • May has lied to the British people, and must go – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph


  • Voters are appalled by fractious infighting – Daily Mail


May’s Brexit Crisis 2) Does Brady already have 48 letters in his pocket?

“Yesterday, Mrs May was braced for a battle to hold onto her leadership after Jacob Rees-Mogg led backbench Eurosceptics in demanding an immediate no-confidence vote among Tory MPs. There must be 48 letters to trigger such a vote and despite reports of many submissions to the 1922 Committee, Mrs May was still standing after one of the most chaotic days in the Brexit negotiations. However, former minister James Duddridge has suggested the number of letters required to trigger a vote may have already been reached but 48 hours will pass before Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, makes the announcement public. Mr Duddridge, who had already submitted his own call during the Tory Conference in October, said: “I think I recall Brady said he will give the PM 48 hours notice before going public. “We may have hit the 48 letters but no announcement.”” – Daily Express

  • Fury at ‘preening Tory saboteurs’ – Daily Mail


  • Despite revulsion at her deal, May is confident opponents won’t move against her – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • Brexit leaves the Tories no longer looking like a party of government – Robert Shrimsley, FT

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Changing the Prime Minister, in itself, would solve nothing

May’s Brexit Crisis 3) Will Gove quit today?

“Michael Gove delivered his ultimatum to Theresa May in Downing Street 15 minutes before she was due to face the cameras. The environment secretary was being primed to replace Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary who quit yesterday morning. The prime minister’s aides booked the meeting in a sign that they expected it to end in mutual agreement. It was not to be. The meeting overran badly after Mr Gove said that he would take the job only if Mrs May renegotiated the divorce deal and cancelled the special EU summit on November 25. Mrs May turned up 25 minutes late to the press conference, with the media wondering why she looked more wooden than normal. In truth, she was unnerved because yet another cornerstone of her Brexit plan had gone awry with Mr Gove on the brink of resigning… Yesterday Mr Gove consulted extensively with friends and allies by phone from his house in Earls Court, west London. Weighing heavily on his mind was the fate of Mr Raab and his predecessor as Brexit secretary, David Davis, who were both cut out of key decisions by No 10 and Mrs May’s Europe unit.” – The Times

  • Merkel kills hopes of more concessions – The Times

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Gove Agonistes

May’s Brexit Crisis 4) Or Mordaunt?

“Michael Gove, the environment secretary, and Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, are reported to have each made demands of the prime minister as she bids to keep them in her Cabinet… Ms Mordaunt, meanwhile, is understood to be demanding that MPs are given a free vote on the Brexit deal. She is due to meet Ms May on Wednesday evening and will re-iterate the request, which she made at Cabinet meetings on both Monday and Wednesday. The international development secretary is believed to have the support of a number of junior ministers and backbenchers, who believe the prime minister’s deal is certain to be rejected and that a free vote is the only way of securing the stability of the Ms May’s government. They also believe it would dampen growing demands for a fresh Brexit referendum. Under Ms Mordaunt’s proposal, Tory MPs would not be whipped as to how to vote on the withdrawal agreement. It is unclear whether a similar arrangement would apply to Cabinet ministers.” – The Independent


  • Brexiteers sank this ship, and now they’re deserting it – David Aaronovitch, The Times


May’s Brexit Crisis 5) Raab’s fury as friends suggest he was stitched up by May, Robbins and Hammond

The Telegraph understands that Mr Raab felt “blindsided” after only being handed the final version of the draft withdrawal agreement and future arrangement on Tuesday evening, despite supposedly being at the heart of negotiations. It included a commitment to “build on the single customs territory”, which was seen by Mr Raab and others as a huge concession that would leave the UK tied to the Customs Union and Single Market after Brexit. Having seen the terms of the deal Mr Raab refused a request by Downing Street to get on a flight to Brussels on Wednesday. In Cabinet, Mr Raab demanded to know: “Who licenced this?” He did not receive a response, but the inference was clear. The Prime Minister and Olly Robbins, her chief EU negotiator, had circumvented the Brexit Secretary, as they had with David Davis before. While MPs drank red and white wine at the close of Cabinet, Mr Raab took Mr Smith to one side in a side room and announced his intention to go. He agreed to hold off resigning until yesterday morning to avoid overshadowing the Prime Minister’s announcement.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Mundell accuses ex-Brexit Secretary of plotting leadership bid – The Times
  • Scottish Tory MPs start to swing behind deal – Daily Telegraph


  • Warring Tories put a hurricane in the sails of the Nationalists – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Where Raab and McVey ‘go wrong’ over threat to the Union – Adan Tomkins MSP, The Scotsman


May’s Brexit Crisis 6) Tim Montgomerie: Without May’s deal I fear we may get no Brexit at all

“Who, though, is to blame for those weaknesses in the Agreement? Is it Mrs May? Of course, part of the answer is ‘Yes’. But so are Brexiteer MPs and ministers who waited until this 89th minute of the negotiating window to start shouting ‘not good enough’… The main threat to Brexit doesn’t come – any longer – from diehard Europhiles like John Major and Ken Clarke. It doesn’t come from the irresponsible campaigners for a second referendum who would rather stay in the EU than honour the political class’s promise to respect the result of the 2016 vote. Brexit is now most in danger from uncompromising, Leave-supporting MPs – who failed to stand up for their beliefs when there was still time for Mrs May and the Government to change course and have waited until the clock is about to strike midnight. In fairy tales you can wait until the last hour and a happy ending is still possible. But this is the real world. And the drama we’ve all been witnessing over the last 24 hours is no fairy story.” – Daily Mail

  • I was wrong to vote Remain, May’s deal is our best hope – Chris Skidmore MP, The Times
  • May’s proposals demand a free vote – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • Delusional Brexiteers have lost the plot – Philip Collins, The Times


  • May’s plan compromises sovereignty worse than EU membership – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph
  • No deal is better than May’s Brexit surrender – Iain Martin, The Times
  • Terrible deal has united the UK in horror – Martin Wolf, FT

>Today: Richard Tice in Comment: May’s deal is the worst deal in history

May’s Brexit Crisis 7) Her campaign to sell her deal to voters kicks off on LBC today…

“This morning she was confronted by voters on a live LBC radio phone-in – with the very first caller telling her to quit and make way for a real Brexiteer. The PM vowed to stay in her job, saying: “I am bringing back what I think is the best deal for Britain.” She insisted she had seen off attempts by Brussels to split up the UK and place a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Mrs May said: “What the EU wanted was to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK – we said no. They said they wanted a customs border down the Irish sea… in October they said, OK, we have to do it in a different way.” One caller on the phone-in called on Mrs May to “do the honourable thing and step aside” to let a Brexiteer take charge – but she was adamant her deal was the only one on the table.” – The Sun

  • Voters reject deal, but prefer it to nothing – The Times
  • Soft Brexit bargain not a done deal, EU warns – The Guardian


  • The woman I know will stand and fight – Katie Perrior, The Times
  • May is running out of road – Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: May’s press conference. Her pitch is…I am Boycott.

May’s Brexit Crisis 8) …after coming under siege in the Commons…

Mrs May pressed on, the despatch box perhaps seeming like a place of refuge in the storm blowing around her… Addressing MPs, she insisted the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with Brussels offered a “breadth and depth of co-operation beyond anything the EU has agreed with any other country”, but her authority appeared to be ebbing away by the minute as no fewer than 17 Conservative and DUP MPs went on the attack. After two hours and 58 minutes in which Mrs May had been battered from all sides of the House, she finally left the Commons Chamber for a meeting in her Parliamentary office with Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs. The meeting had already been scheduled before Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the European Research Group of Tory Eurosceptics, announced he had written to Sir Graham demanding a confidence vote on the Prime Minister’s leadership, and Sir Graham did not have any career-threatening news for Mrs May.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Ratcheting up… 20 ministers quit and counting – The Times


  • May’s resilience could yet see her through – The Times

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The Prime Minister put in a superb Parliamentary performance yesterday

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “It delivers in ways that many said could simply not be done.” May’s Commons statement. Full text.

May’s Brexit Crisis 9) …and with Labour support ‘ebbing away’

“Support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal among Labour MPs appeared to be ebbing away on Thursday as they mulled the repercussions of backing it. Graham Stringer, a veteran Eurosceptic – one of 10 who backed Brexit in 2016 – said he would not back the withdrawal agreement. “I haven’t found a Labour MP who is backing it yet,” he said. “I’ve probably talked to at least 20 today and I have not found any person.” Mrs May had hoped to convince up to 20 Labour MPs to back the deal because it would be preferable to the economic damage of a no-deal scenario. One member of the shadow cabinet told the Financial Times last week that “30 to 50” Labour MPs had been “agonising” about the issue. Beyond the hard core of Eurosceptics are many former Remain voters with a majority of Leavers in their constituencies in the north, the Midlands and Wales. Some have large international employers in their seats who have threatened to move in the event of no-deal. In June, 15 Labour MPs defied the whip to vote against an amendment to the EU withdrawal bill which would have kept the UK in the EEA.” – FT


  • Is Britain about to dump pragmatism for revolution? – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

>Today: ToryDiary: Terror of No Deal is driving May to risk splitting her Party and fall back on Labour MPs instead

May’s Brexit crisis 10) Donaldson says the DUP’s arrangement with the Conservatives has not collapsed… yet

“The DUP will consider withdrawing its support for the Conservative Party if the draft Brexit deal passes in Parliament, a DUP MP has said. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP chief whip, made the comments on BBC NI TV show The View. The DUP’s backing, as part of a Confidence and Supply arrangement with the Tory Party, has been crucial in propping up Theresa May’s government. Speaking on The View on Thursday night, Mr Donaldson said: “Let me be clear, in terms of this arrangement with the Conservative Party, our focus right now, understandably, is what happens with this deal. That is the most immediate priority.” He continued: “And part of our agreement with the Conservative Party is the Brexit situation. So yes, if the Conservative Party decided and were successful in getting this deal through the House of Commons then, absolutely, we will have to review our position with regard to the confidence and supply agreement.” His comments follow intense criticism of the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons yesterday.” – News Letter

  • What you need to know about May’s alliance with the Democratic Unionists – The Sun

News in Brief:

  • The reckless incoherence of Labour’s Brexit deal opposition – Alan Lockey, CapX
  • How close are we to 48 letters of no confidence in Theresa May? – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Counter-intuitive thought: May’s deal might yet get through – Mark Fox, Reaction
  • May’s Brexit deal does not deliver what people voted for at the referendum – Gisela Stuart, Brexit Central
  • The truth about GDP figures – Peter Franklin, UnHerd

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