Theresa May faces another tough test but wins key Cabinet minister backing


LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May faces a tough grilling from senior MPs over her controversial Brexit agenda, but has been boosted by strong backing from a prominent Cabinet Leave supporter.

The Prime Minister is expected to receive intensive questioning as she appears before the Commons Liaison Committee, which is made up of leading parliamentarians, on Thursday.

The appearance comes as Labour threw down the gauntlet over Mrs May’s EU withdrawal agreement by tabling an amendment opposing the deal ahead of a Commons showdown in 12 days’ time.

However, the PM gained support when prominent Brexiteer and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom backed Mrs May’s stance.

Mrs Leadsom, who had been named as one of the “pizza club” of pro-Leave Cabinet ministers who held informal meetings to discuss their response to withdrawal plans, backed Mrs May’s deal, the Daily Mail reported.

In a letter to constituents Mrs Leadsom said it had been a “challenging journey”, but the PM’s plan was the only deal on the table and meant the UK would quit the bloc next March, the newspaper said.

The intervention came as the Government confirmed MPs will debate the Brexit deal eight hours a day for five days leading up to a crunch vote on December 11.

MPs will be allowed to vote on six amendments to the Government motion backing the deal during the Commons showdown.

Commons Speaker John Bercow will decide which amendments get to be debated and decided upon by MPs ahead of the so-called meaningful vote on Government proposals.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is appearing on ITV’s This Morning on Thursday to push his case, said the party could not back Mrs May’s plan as it failed to ensure participation in a “strong” single market and customs union. The move came as Labour signalled a new referendum would be inevitable if Mrs May’s plans are voted down.