Andrea Leadsom resigns from government over Brexit bill

PUBLISHED: 19:44 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 20:25 22 May 2019

Andrea Leadsom arrives in Downing Street.

Andrea Leadsom arrives in Downing Street.

PA Wire/PA Images

Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom has resigned, saying in a letter to Theresa May "I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result".

The Leader of the House of Commons said she was stepping down "with a heavy heart".

Leadsom said she was "proud" to have served in Theresa May's government since 2016, and had stayed in the cabinet to "shape and fight for Brexit" despite some "uncomfortable compromises along the way".

But in her letter she told Theresa May she said "there has been such a breakdown of government processes that recent Brexit-related legislative proposals have not been property scrutinised or approved by cabinet members."

She explained: "The tolerance to those in cabinet who have advocated policies contrary to the government's position has led to a complete breakdown of collective responsibility.

"I considered carefully the timing of this decision, but I cannot fulfil my duty as Leader of the House tomorrow, to announce a Bill with new elements that I fundamentally oppose."

Ian Lavery, chair of the Labour Party, said: "The prime minister's authority is shot and her time is up.

"While the Tories are ripping themselves apart, our country is in crisis. The government has made a catastrophic mess of the Brexit negotiations, our steel industry is under threat and universal credit is pushing people into poverty.

"For the sake of the country, Theresa May needs to go, and we need an immediate general election."

Leadsom's resignation came as May faces growing pressure to quit amid a backlash over her last-ditch effort to get a Brexit deal through.

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May will meet Sir Graham Brady, the representative of Tory backbench MPs, on Friday for a meeting which could seal her fate.

She has previously agreed to set out the timetable for the contest to replace her after a crunch vote on her Brexit deal, widely expected on June 7.

That deadline appears to have been brought forward with the announcement she will meet Sir Graham, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, the day after polling day for the European elections, which are expected to be disastrous for the Conservatives.

Sir Graham told reporters: "I will be meeting with the prime minister on Friday following her campaigning in the European elections and following that meeting I will be consulting with the 1922 executive."

He said the executive discussed "all sorts of things" in the meeting. The 1922 Committee's executive had been expected to consider a rule change to allow another attempt to force May out.

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