UK PM Theresa May to renew Brexit deal push after pledge to resign
LONDON – Agence France-Presse
At risk of losing control of the process of leaving the European Union, the leader announced she would resign if parliament finally backed her withdrawal agreement.
The offer came just hours before the House of Commons took part in an unprecedented series of votes to seek an alternative plan - but all eight proposals failed to find a majority, highlighting divisions among MPs.
Brexit minister Steve Barclay said the outcome "strengthens our view that the deal our government has negotiated is the best option".
"I know there is a desire for a new approach - and new leadership - in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won't stand in the way of that," she told a packed meeting of her Conservative MPs.
"But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit. I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party."
There are signs of softening among her rebel MPs, with a number of Eurosceptics performing a U-turn including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson - a likely contender to replace May - who told fellow MPs on March 27 he would support the deal.
But her offer may not be enough to win round some hardliners, including a group of Conservatives reported to call themselves "The Spartans" who are still holding out - as is the Democratic Unionist Party, the Northern Irish party which props up May's government.
The opposition Labour and Scottish National parties are also against the deal.
Britain's Daily Mail newspaper questioned whether her "sacrifice" would be in vain while the Guardian called her resignation offer "a stitch-up for a bad deal".
The i newspaper summed up her offer with the headline "Back me and sack me," adding that she had ignited a Conservative Party leadership contest.
Downing Street has hopes of returning its deal to MPs for a third vote this week, but said it would only do this if it believed it would win.
Frustrated by May's refusal to change strategy, backbench MPs staged their own series of votes.
MPs were asked to vote yes or no to eight options but there was no majority for any of them.
A proposal to put May's deal, if agreed, to a "confirmatory" public vote also came close to passing, defeated by 295 to 268 votes - a result that drew huge cheers in the Commons.
Time has now been set aside on March 31 for MPs to try and whittle down the most popular options - however, the motions are not binding on May.