Theresa May has tried to quash speculation that she could be forced from office within weeks, saying that she has “a lot more for me to do” as UK prime minister.
Mrs May’s Brexit deal suffered another blow this weekend when the universities minister Sam Gyimah resigned, saying her deal with Brussels was “naive”. An overwhelming majority of MPs have made clear that they will vote against her deal, an eventuality that would severely damage her political position.
However, speaking at the end of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, the prime minister refused to detail her plans if she loses the vote. “The next nine days are a really important time for our country, leading up to the vote on this deal,” she told journalists. “I will be talking with members of parliament, obviously, and explaining to them why I think this is a good deal for the UK.”
Mrs May again warned of “uncertainty” if she loses the vote on December 11. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, asked her directly in a meeting on Saturday not to allow Britain to leave the EU without a deal with Brussels.
“I would like to once again ask for your support to avoid no deal as well as to ensure transparency, predictability as well as legal stability in the Brexit process,” Mr Abe said. Mrs May has given no such assurance, saying that ‘no deal’ and ‘no Brexit’ remain possibilities, although she has warned of the negative shock from a no-deal Brexit.
Michael Gove, the environment secretary and former Leave campaigner, on Saturday made his most detailed defence of Mrs May’s deal. “Does it deliver 100 per cent of what I wanted? No. But then we didn’t win 100 per cent of the vote on June 23 2016,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.
Mrs May’s trip to the G20 has been marked by her search for post-Brexit deals, with countries including Australia and Japan, and by her decision to hold talks with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, despite questions about his involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mrs May would not comment on whether she had asked Prince Mohammad directly about his knowledge of the murder.
Asked how Britain could sign goods trade deals when it would be tied to EU regulations after Brexit, she said that “trade, and the future trade, is about more than goods.”