May clashes with Tony Blair

Tony Blair hits out at PM’s ‘steamroller’ tactics			
				 
   by Joel Taylor 
  Published

Tony Blair hits out at PM’s ‘steamroller’ tactics by Joel Taylor Published

Britain's exit from the European Union was heading for an impasse, one senior minister said on Saturday, after a week in which Prime Minister Theresa May failed to win EU assurances on her deal and pulled a vote because United Kingdom lawmakers would defeat it.

Despite the chaotic day, Mrs May, who has vowed to fight the challenge "with everything I've got", appeared jovial as she faced a barrage of attacks during Prime Minister's Questions in parliament, smiling as she quipped her day would be full of "many meetings". "It is a compromise", May said.

The Prime Minister also became embroiled in a highly personalised war of words with one of her predecessors, Tony Blair, over his calls for a fresh Brexit vote.

"If that were not to be successful, we do need to have agreement - we can't just have continuing uncertainty and I think Parliament should be invited to say what it would agree with, and that's something that I think businesses up and down the country would expect elected members to take responsibility, rather than just be critics".

Mr Juncker said he was "not addressing" Mrs May in his remarks, and instead meant to direct his criticism at the "overall state" of the Brexit debate in Britain.

"Any effort to force Brexit over the line without checking that it has the continued consent of the British people will only reinforce divisions", she said.

But even as May insisted she could salvage her unpopular divorce deal, pressure was mounting for dramatic action - a new referendum or a vote among lawmakers - to find a way out of Britain's Brexit impasse and prevent the economic damage of a messy exit from the European Union on March 29 with no agreement in place.

"I think she needs to win by one", said International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

"But expressing our personal views is not what we are here to do".

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But she added: "The EU is clear, as I am, that if we are going to leave with a deal, this is it".

If she loses the confidence vote, Mrs May must step down and there will be a contest to choose a new leader.

"And let us not follow the leader of the opposition in thinking what gives him the best chance in forcing a general election, for at this critical moment in our history we should be thinking not about our parties' interest but the national interest", May said.

In a press conference at the end of a European Council summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister acknowledged that it would not be possible to reopen the agreement to alter the backstop provisions which have sparked mass rebellion among Tory MPs.

At a European Union summit in Brussels, May failed to secure guarantees that would satisfy her rebels.

May's chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, was on Sunday forced to deny reports that he was planning for such an outcome.

Lidington is part of a group of senior ministers - Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, David Gauke and Greg Clark - who believe a new referendum may be the only way to break the parliamentary gridlock, the newspaper said. I remain determined to see that happen.

The comments came as Cabinet tensions intensified over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and the impact it would have on the economy.

Key allies of Theresa May have distanced themselves from reports they are involved in planning for a new Brexit referendum.

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