'Tortoise' Theresa May under pressure over leadership and Brexit

'Tortoise' Theresa May under pressure over leadership and Brexit

Brexiteers are worried about the 'dilution of Brexit'

Monday, January 29, 2018

Theresa May was under mounting pressure over both Brexit and her leadership as the EU prepares to green-light negotiations on a transition period.

The Prime Minister is facing increasingly vocal complaints from Leavers that she is preparing to deliver a Brexit "in name only" because the UK will follow EU rules during the transition.

Several backbenchers also broke cover during the weekend to criticise her lack of action on domestic issues.

Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said she was worried about a "dilution of Brexit" whilst Remainer Heidi Allen told May to "get a grip" because the Tories are "letting this country down."

Meanwhile former minister Rob Halfon appeared to liken May to a "tortoise."

This raised fresh speculation about a potential leadership challenge, which worsened as The Telegraph obtained a WhatsApp message sent by energy minister Claire Perry in which she branded Brexiteers concerned about the £39 billion EU divorce bill as "swivel-eyed" elderly men with no mortgages or young children.

There were also calls for May to sack Chancellor Philip Hammond, who enraged Brexiteers by saying trade relations with the EU would change only "very modestly" and that the UK should seek a "middle way."

The EU General Affairs Council is expected to approve guidelines for chief negotiator Michel Barnier to follow during talks on a post-Brexit transition period today (January 29)

The basic principles are likely to be that Britain must follow "the whole of the EU acquis" or law, but no longer participate in the institutions and decision-making of the bloc, while complying with European Court of Justice rulings and paying into the budget.

The Government has already indicated it is willing to comply with most of the EU's demands to secure an "implementation period" of about two years after withdrawal in March 2019 to make life easier for businesses, but to the consternation of Brexiteers.