Tory chaos: divisions over Brexit continue in wake of resignations

PUBLISHED: 10:45 11 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:46 11 July 2018

Beleaguered prime minister Theresa May

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Tory divisions over Brexit continue to boil over as beleaguered Theresa May was warned to prepare for more resignations from her top team.

A former minister warned many Tories had "real concerns" about the direction of Brexit after two party vice-chairs quit over her Chequers plan for leaving the EU.

Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield said that Mrs May's plans for close links with Europe after Brexit risked handing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to 10 Downing Street as they resigned their posts.

Hard-line backbencher Andrew Bridgen sent a letter of no confidence in Mrs May to the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

Fellow Brexiteer Andrea Jenkyns, a vocal critic of Mrs May, said it was time to "put country first".

She told BBC Two's Newsnight: "I think if the prime minister makes further concessions with the EU then there will no doubt be more resignations from Brexiteers in the Cabinet, from junior ministers to PPSs because there is only so much that you can give in a negotiation."

Maria Caulfield has quit as Conservative vice-chair for women (Conservative Party/PA Images)

Tory former minister Mark Francois said a confidence vote in the PM was not the "right thing to do".

But he warned he felt "very strongly about the future of my country" and said Tories had "real concerns" about the direction of Brexit.

He told the programme: "What we are trying to do is not open revolt but we are trying to tell the prime minister and the Cabinet that we have got real concerns about where this is going.

"We want to hold the party together and so we would like those concerns seriously to be taken into account.

"I don't think that's an unreasonable proposition."

Ben Bradley stepped down as Conservative vice-chair for youth (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Stewart Jackson, former special adviser to David Davis, said No 10 had blocked his reappointment in the role under new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.

The ex-MP said there was a "plan" to curtail the role of the Brexit department.

One disgruntled Tory MP declined an invitation to watch England's World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia at 10 Downing Street because of his dissatisfaction with Mrs May's Brexit plans.

Crawley MP Henry Smith posted his invitation from Chief Whip Julian Smith on Twitter, adding: "Received this invite to watch tomorrow's England-Croatia World Cup semi-final in 10 Downing Street.

"Seeing as the prime minister isn't bringing Brexit home I'm concerned attending would be a bad omen for football coming home... I'll pass."

Mrs May is in Brussels for a Nato meeting which is also being attended by US president Donald Trump, who described the UK as being in "turmoil" after the resignations of Boris Johnson and Mr Davis from Cabinet.

The PM will hold a regional Cabinet in Newcastle in July, which is likely to include discussions about Brexit.
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