British Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to push a Brexit compromise through Parliament. (Reuters: Eddie Keogh)
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Government is under mounting pressure after a new Brexit gambit backfired and prominent Brexit supporter Andrea Leadsom resigned, fuelling calls for the beleaguered leader to quit.
- Andrea Leadsom is one of more than 30 Cabinet ministers to resign from Theresa May’s Government
- It comes one day ahead of EU parliamentary elections and Mrs May’s attempt to push through a new Brexit plan
- Several key MPs from Mrs May’s own party are now calling on her to step down
So far Mrs May has resisted, vowing to press on despite key politicians’ opposition to her bid to push a Brexit deal through Parliament by softening her stance on a second referendum and customs arrangements.
More than 30 Cabinet ministers have now resigned from Mrs May’s Government.
Almost three years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, it is unclear when, how or even if Brexit will happen.
Ms Leadsom, Leader of the House of Commons, said she could not announce the new Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which will implement Britain’s departure, in Parliament on Thursday as she did not believe in it.
“I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result,” she said in a resignation letter.
“It is therefore with great regret and with a heavy heart that I resign from the Government.”
A Downing Street spokesman praised Ms Leadsom and expressed disappointment at her decision, but added: “The Prime Minister remains focused on delivering the Brexit people voted for.”
Mrs May might still try to press on with her new Brexit plan, which includes a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum — once her legislation passes the first stage — as well as closer trading arrangements with the EU.
But it has been met with a swift backlash, with several MPs who have supported her in previous Brexit votes saying they could not back the new plan, particularly over her U-turn regarding a possible second referendum.
Labour opposition party chair Ian Lavery said the resignation underlined that “the Prime Minister’s authority is shot and her time is up”.
“For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election,” he said.
Conservatives turn on May
Labour’s call echoed those of many Conservatives, who said a fourth attempt to get Mrs May’s deal approved by Parliament should be shelved and she should leave office to offer a new leader a chance to reset the dial.
“There is one last chance to get it right and leave in an orderly fashion. But it is now time for Prime Minister Theresa May to go — and without delay,” Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat wrote in the Financial Times.
“She must announce her resignation after Thursday’s European [Parliament] elections.”
Meanwhile, pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage reportedly found himself trapped on his Brexit Party campaign bus as men carrying milkshakes waited for him to disembark, just days after he was hit with a banana and salted caramel milkshake in Newcastle.
Local news site Kent Live reported Mr Farage became stuck on the bus in Rochester, Kent, where three young men wearing balaclavas were waiting to throw milkshakes over him as he arrived to drum up support ahead of Friday’s EU parliamentary elections.
Several British candidates in the EU elections have been ‘milkshaked’ over the past month, including far-right figure Tommy Robinson and anti-feminist UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin.
Mr Farage’s Brexit Party is positioned to win the most votes in the EU elections, outpolling even the two major parties in a series of opinion polls leading up to the vote.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage after being hit with a milkshake earlier in the week. (Reuters: Scott Heppell)