Politics update: May defends her Brexit plans, as Tory MPs make leadership threats

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Good morning. Here’s your daily politics briefing.

May defends her Brexit plans in the Commons

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Theresa May delivered an update on the state of Brexit negotiations to MPs on Monday, where she attempted to appease critics by stating the withdrawal agreement was 95% complete, and told MPs they should “hold their nerve.”

Speaking in the Commons, May told MPs: “The Brexit talks are not about my interests. They are about the national interest – and the interests of the whole of our United Kingdom.

“Serving our national interest will demand that we hold our nerve through these last stages of the negotiations, the hardest part of all.”

A closer look: May’s plan

The PM’s approach to complete the withdrawal agreement now appears to have four key stages, which were laid out in the Commons yesterday. The first, is to make a UK-wide backstop legally binding, to avoid a backstop which applied only to Northern Ireland.

The second is to extend the Brexit transition period, in the event that the backstop issue can not be resolved, with the UK remaining in the single market and customs union. Yesterday May told the Commons this “might be preferable” to the backstop plan. The third stage of negotiations would then be to ensure that this extended transition period was not indefinite – a point which has caused much concern in her own party in the past week.

The fourth stage of May’s plan would then see her attempt to secure “full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.”

Sadiq Khan: Labour will be forced to oppose May’s Brexit deal

Sadiq Khan London Mayor

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the public to have their say on any Brexit deal agreed upon by Theresa May, with the option to remain in the EU if the deal is unacceptable.

Khan said: “Theresa May has failed to put the national interest ahead of internal party management in the negotiations and is leading us towards either a bad Brexit deal or, worse still, no deal at all.

Khan added: “The need for another public vote on Brexit was never inevitable, or something I ever thought I’d have to call for.

“But the reality is that the abject failure of the government – and the huge risk we now face of either a bad deal or a ‘no deal’ Brexit – means that giving people a fresh say on our future is now the right, and only, approach left for the good of our country.”

His comments come days before he is due to meet Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. Khan will meet with Barnier on Friday in Brussels, where he is expected to emphasise the need for far closer economic ties with the bloc.

Khan attended the People’s Vote march in London this weekend, which saw 670,000 people march on the capital demanding their final say on any deal agreed upon by the government, in the biggest demonstration against Brexit since the referendum. 

“Killing zone” threats against May draw condemnation from MPs

Anonymous Tory MPs told Sunday newspapers over the weekend that Theresa May was facing the possibility of a leadership contest, describing the situation with violent language, and ‘disgraceful’ remarks which were condemned by MPs from all sides on Monday.

One anonymous Conservative MP told the Sunday Times: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

Another anonymous MP told The Sunday Times that May was entering the “killing zone”, and a third told the paper that “assassination in the air.” Finally, one Tory MP told the Mail on Sunday that May should ““bring her own noose” if she meets with her party this week.

The comments drew criticism from senior Conservative MPs, and even from Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer.

Senior Tories called for whoever made the comments to be removed from the party whip, with Yvette Cooper, chair of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, telling Radio 4’s today programme the comments were “unacceptable”, especially in light of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.

Cooper told Radio 4: “Nobody should be subject to that kind of violent language, which I think is normalising violence in public debate at a time when we lost Jo Cox, we have had threats against Rosie Cooper, we have had other violent death threats against women MPs,”

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