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UK PM under pressure to give a date for leaving office

This article is more than 12 months old

LONDON British Prime Minister Theresa May was under pressure yesterday to give a date for leaving office as the price to bring Brexit-supporting rebel lawmakers in her party behind her twice-defeated European Union divorce treaty.

At one of the most important junctures for the country in at least a generation, British politics was at fever pitch and, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.

With Mrs May weakened, ministers lined up to insist she was still in charge and to deny a reported plot to demand she name a date to leave office at a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

The Sun newspaper said in an editorial that Mrs May must announce she will stand down as soon as her Brexit deal is approved and the United Kingdom has left the EU. The newspaper said on its front page: "Time's up, Theresa." It added that her one chance of getting the deal approved was to name a date for her departure.

Mrs May called rebel lawmakers including Mr Boris Johnson, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg and Mr Steve Baker to her Chequers residence on Sunday, Downing Street said, along with ministers David Lidington and Michael Gove. The two ministers denied reports that they were being lined up as a possible caretaker prime minister.

"The meeting discussed a range of issues, including whether there is sufficient support in the Commons to bring back a meaningful vote (for her deal) this week," a spokesman said.

Mrs May was told by Brexiteers at the meeting that she must set out a timetable to leave office if she wants to get her deal ratified, Buzzfeed reporter Alex Wickham said on Twitter.

The Sun's political editor, Mr Tom Newton Dunn, said some ministers were urging Mrs May to pivot to a no-deal Brexit as the only way to survive in power.

Mrs May's deal was defeated by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan 15.

The Sunday Times quoted unidentified ministers saying that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has "gone haywire". - REUTERS