PM May sticks to Brexit deal as opponents seek formal challenge

Nadine Dorries said she did not wan't to oust Theresa May. (Image BBC0

Nadine Dorries said she did not wan't to oust Theresa May. (Image BBC0

The prime minister warned that a change of leadership would not make it any easier to get a deal through parliament or the European Union, and warned that it could delay or frustrate Brexit.

May's government relies for survival on the votes of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, which struck a deal past year to back the Conservatives on major legislation, including finance bills.

May has pledged to fight on, warning that toppling her risks delaying Britain's exit from the European Union, or leaving without a deal, a step that could thrust the world's fifth-largest economy into the unknown.

DUP lawmakers earlier failed to back the government on several votes, a sign of the struggle May faces in trying to get her plan through a parliament, which like much of Britain, is still deeply split over Brexit.

"We had to do something to show our displeasure", the DUP's Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson, said.

The tactic, which saw the DUP siding with Labour, was "designed to send a political message to the government: Look, we've got an agreement with you but you've got to keep your side of the bargain otherwise we don't feel obliged to keep ours", stated Wilson.

The EU is due to hold a summit to discuss the draft deal on November 25.

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"I want the future relationship to be able to be in place in January 2021", she said.

Commenting after the debate, she said: "I am very concerned about this proposed deal for many reasons - including what this deal will mean for our friends, neighbours and co-workers who come from the EU27 and have made Oxford their home". If she's going to continue down this path then we have to have a change of prime minister.

In an ominous move for the Prime Minister's Brexit plans, the Northern Ireland party also refused to support the Government on a string of other measures in the Finance Bill.

CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn gave qualified support for May's draft deal, telling the conference that "it is not flawless, it is a compromise, but it is hard-won progress".

Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could torpedo an agreement, thrusting the world's fifth largest economy into a no-deal void that they say would weaken the West, spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade. The agreement faced criticism both from the opposition and from the ruling party, with several members of May's cabinet having resigned over their disagreement with the deal. Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann says that it will make Northern Ireland "drift further away" from the United Kingdom.

The group has previously said it was confident of getting the 48 letters - from 15 percent of Conservative lawmakers - needed to spark a leadership challenge.

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