Tory leadership rivals clash over support for no-deal Brexit: Brexit News for Sunday 26 May

Tory leadership rivals clash over support for no-deal Brexit: Brexit News for Sunday 26 May
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Tory leadership rivals clash over support for no-deal Brexit…

Conservative leadership contenders have clashed over Brexit as the race to succeed Theresa May in No 10 begins. Rory Stewart said he would not serve under rival Boris Johnson because of his backing for a no-deal exit. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the fifth Tory to enter the race, said Mrs May’s successor must be more “brutally honest” about the “trade-offs” required to get a deal through Parliament. The leadership contest will determine who is the UK’s next prime minister.  Party bosses expect a new leader to be chosen by the end of July. Mrs May confirmed on Friday that she will resign as party leader on 7 June, but will continue as PM while the leadership contest takes place. Announcing his candidacy, Mr Hancock ruled out a snap general election in order to resolve the Brexit stalemate, saying this would be “disastrous for the country” and would risk seeing the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in power “by Christmas”. – BBC News

  • Backlash hits Boris Johnson’s bid for No 10 as senior Tories back away over no-deal Brexit fears – Independent
  • Race to succeed May turning toxic already – Mail on Sunday

…as Tory moderates opposed to a no-deal Brexit launch ‘Stop Boris’ campaign…

A campaign to stop Boris Johnson becoming prime minister and taking the country into a no-deal Brexit was launched by moderate cabinet ministers on Saturday as the first shots were fired in the Tory contest to succeed Theresa May in Downing Street. After May bowed to pressure on Friday and announced she would resign as Tory leader within two weeks, justice secretary David Gauke and international development secretary Rory Stewart condemned Johnson’s readiness to embrace a no-deal, saying it would be hugely damaging to the national interest. The move, part of a concerted “anti-Johnson” push by opponents of a hard Brexit, followed comments by the former foreign secretary on Friday, soon after May’s resignation speech in Downing Street, that the UK would definitely leave the EU “deal or no deal” on 31 October if he became leader in July. The remark infuriated the soft-Brexit wing of the party, with some MPs and ministers even warning that there would be “serious numbers” of moderate Conservatives who would be ready to vote down a Johnson government if he set the country on a path to no deal. – Observer

…with Rory Stewart vowing he would not serve under Johnson if he pursued a no-deal Brexit…

Tory leadership contender Rory Stewart has said he could not serve in a government led by Boris Johnson if he took the UK towards a no deal Brexit. The International Development Secretary also warned MPs against choosing the “star name”, in what appeared to be a further attack on Mr Johnson. Mr Stewart has said that as Prime Minister he would legislate to rule out both a no-deal Brexit and a second referendum. Leaving the European Union without a deal would be “damaging and dishonest”, Mr Stewart  told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. He added: “I could not serve in a government whose policy was to push this country into a no-deal Brexit. I could not serve with Boris Johnson.” On Friday Mr Johnson said Britain would leave the European Union “deal or no deal” on October 31 if he became Prime Minister. The former foreign secretary told a conference in Switzerland that while Mrs May had been “patient and stoical” the next Tory leader would have to “get out of the EU properly and put Brexit to bed”. Mr Stewart said this was not the impression he got from Mr Johnson in private. “I spoke to Boris, I suppose, about two weeks ago about this and I thought at the time he had assured me that he wouldn’t push for a no-deal Brexit,” he said. “So, we had a conversation about 20, 25 minutes and I left the room reassured by him that he wouldn’t do this. But it now seems that he is coming out for a no-deal Brexit.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

  • Tory leadership hopeful Rory Stewart launches scathing ‘Pinocchio’ attack on Boris Johnson – The Sun

…but Boris Johnson vows to deliver Brexit within three months and see off Corbyn and Farage…

Boris Johnson has drawn up a secret blueprint for power to convince doubting Tories to back his leadership bid. He will try to win over waverers with a wad of initiatives to boost NHS funding, tackle violent crime, ease the housing crisis and improve transport links. But the hot favourite believes his biggest appeal is that he is a proven winner – who can see of both Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage at a stroke. In a series of meetings with jittery MPs, Bojo has been driving home the message that only he has the X-factor which can save them at the next general election. He told one hesitant colleague: “I’m could be your lifeline. I’m the only candidate in this contest who can defeat both Nigel Farage and Jeremy Corbyn. “I’ve beaten Labour’s hard-Left twice in the London mayoral elections – and know I can do it on the national stage, too. “We also need to deliver a proper Brexit to make sure we get all those people back who drifted off to the Brexit party. “It’s not enough to beat one just Corbyn. We must defeat Nigel Farage, too, if we are to retain power.” – The Sun

  • Fury as Brexit-wrecking MPs plot to stop Boris Johnson winning leadership – The Sun

…as  Farage claims ‘You cannot trust Boris with Brexit’

Boris Johnson last night faced an extraordinary onslaught from both Brexiteers and Remainers who said he cannot be trusted to be Prime Minister. With the race hotting up to replace Theresa May, Mr Johnson has been named as the odds-on favourite to enter Downing Street with a promise to get Britain out of the EU “deal or no-deal” on October 31. But the attacks on him were led by Nigel Farage who – writing for the Sunday Express – furiously criticised the former London Mayor for voting for Theresa May’s deal. He said: “Never mind turkeys voting for Christmas, this was more like Spartacus voting for slavery. “Now Boris pledges that the UK will definitely leave the EU on 31 October, ‘Brexit deal or no deal’. “But why should we trust him to keep his word?” From the Remainer wing, cabinet minister Rory Stewart, a leadership rival, said he could not work with Mr Johnson. He posted an apparent reference to the former Mayor in a Tweet, saying: “The star name will not always be the best choice. There may be times when Jiminy Cricket would make a better leader than Pinocchio”. – Sunday Express

Back me to beat Corbyn and deliver Brexit, says Michael Gove…

Michael Gove has declared that he is the best candidate to take on Jeremy Corbyn, talking up his own role in the Leave campaign and claiming he will seize control of the machinery of government to deliver Brexit. The Environment Secretary is telling MPs that he is a “unity” candidate with the “vision” and proven “grip” over government departments that will enable him to secure the UK’s departure from the UK and reverse the Conservatives’ decline in the polls. Mr Gove, whom supporters expect to publicly announce his candidacy on Sunday evening, told a private dinner of MPs last week that while Boris Johnson was the main face of the Vote Leave campaign, he was entrusted with some of the highest pressure television debates which would also feature in a general election. His pitch was also focused on how he had run three government departments since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, contrasting his experience leading education, justice and environmental reforms with that of other candidates. Mr Johnson, whose 2016 leadership campaign ended when Mr Gove quit as campaign manager to launch his own bid, ran the Foreign Office for two years, while Dominic Raab, the former Brexit Secretary, was in cabinet for four months. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

  • Michael Gove challenges his rival again – Sunday Times (£)
  • Gove will be eighth candidate to enter race – BBC News
  • Michael Gove proves he’s in it to win it as he claims he can beat Jeremy Corbyn – The Sun

…as Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab formally join the Tory leadership race…

Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom have become the latest Tory MPs to formally announce their intention to succeed Theresa May. Environment Secretary Michael Gove is also reported to be in the race for the Tory leadership, despite not yet formally declaring his candidacy. Dominic Raab, the former Brexit secretary, has written in the Mail on Sunday saying he will put his hat in the ring to offer an “optimistic Conservative vision” and “fight for a fairer deal on Brexit”. Andrea Leadsom, whose resignation as Leader of the House of Commons on Wednesday played a role in precipitating Mrs May’s resignation announcement, has told the Sunday Times she has the “experience and confidence” to “lead this country into a brighter future”. While both say they will attempt to renegotiate the existing withdrawal agreement with the EU, both also commit to ensuring the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal by 31 October. – Sky News

  • Raab and Leadsom enter Conservative leadership race as Hunt outlines his credentials for the top job – ITV News
  • Jeremy Hunt and Andrea Leadsom square up in new battle of Brexiteers – Sunday Times (£)

..and Priti Patel says she is considering standing with warning against ‘grubby’ Brexit deals

Earlier this month Priti Patel was paid an intriguing compliment by the man who is poised to all but wipe out the Conservatives’ footprint in the European Parliament, having won millions of Tory voters over to his new pro-Brexit party. In an interview with The Telegraph, Nigel Farage claimed that the former development secretary was “the only one who is even qualified” to take him on at a general election, as he dismissed the possibility of Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab restoring the Conservatives’ vote share as a result of their support for Theresa May’s deal in March. And speaking to Ms Patel, with an inevitably disastrous showing looming over Conservatives ahead of Sunday’s results, it isn’t impossible to see the logic behind Mr Farage’s claim. The public, Ms Patel says, are sick of the “grubbiness” of backroom conversations between ministers and MPs that culminated last week in draft Brexit legislation that would have paved the way for a second referendum. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

MPs secretly backing more than one Tory leadership candidate warned of tactic ‘backfiring’

MPs secretly promising to support more than one Tory leadership candidate have been warned against the tactic “backfiring”. As the race to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister heats up, candidates have been pitching to MPs for their support through regular dinners, meetings and calls. One backbench MP told the Sunday Telegraph: “I’ve never felt more loved.” While the majority remain undecided, some MPs are going one step further and telling rival leadership camps they will back them. One supporter of Boris Johnson said: “I have no doubt multiple MPs will pledge their loyalty to multiple candidates. It is the nature of contest. “The truth usually outs. A clever duplicitous move usually ends up backfiring.” Another source in a rival leadership campaign said: “I’ve heard of one MP being told he was definitely supporting one candidate and probably supporting another [even though they] actually hadn’t spoken to either.” The source pointed out that many MPs are still undecided and said: “Anyone telling people how many people they have got backing them is either lying or deluded.” – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Conservative membership has surged amid fears of campaign to swing leadership election

Tens of thousands of new members have joined the Conservatives in the last year, swelling the electorate that will choose Theresa May’s successor. The Tories now have more than 160,000 paid-up supporters, an increase of almost a third since March 2018. Sources claimed the rise was down to a recruitment drive led by Brandon Lewis, who was appointed as party chairman in January 2018. However the rapid growth is likely to spark further claims that the Tories have been “infiltrated” by hardline Brexiteers in recent months. Tory members will be asked to vote for one of two final candidates in the summer, once MPs have whittled down a longlist of would-be leaders. Mr Lewis, who will oversee the contest triggered by Mrs May, reveals the increase in the party’s closely-guarded membership figures in an article for this newspaper. The standard membership fee is £25 per year. He also lists, as the issues that members “care about”, the economy, housing, the environment, and the NHS. His omission of any mention of Brexit is likely to be seen as a warning that the contest should not focus on the UK’s departure from the EU. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Liam Fox calls for clearout of Downing Street advisers who doubt Brexit

A Brexiteer Cabinet minister has called for a clearing out of Number 10 to replace any advisers still harbouring doubts over Britain leaving the European Union. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, says the “opportunity” offered by Brexit can only be seized if those officials who are sceptical of its chances of success are removed from Downing Street. Writing for The Telegraph, Dr Fox said Theresa May’s successor should surround themselves with people who are not scared of cutting ties with the EU. He says: “There are some potential benefits [of Mrs May’s departure]. One of the most significant will be to clear out Number 10 so that the PM’s advisers do not see Brexit as a problem to be solved but an opportunity to be grasped. “It will be key to ensuring that we do not see the priority as being keeping as much of the EU as possible rather than deciding what best suits Britain’s long-term interests.” Individuals such as Olly Robbins, Mrs May’s Europe adviser, and Gavin Barwell, her chief of staff, have come in for particular criticism from Brexiteers in the Conservative Party. Ian Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, earlier this month said Mr Robbins and his team “couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag”, while Mr Barwell has previously been accused of talking up the prospect of a second referendum. Dr Fox’s concerns are echoed by Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph. Ms Truss, who backed Remain in 2016, warns: “The approach has been to try and compromise and split the difference. And that to me is not what Brexit is about. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

How the secret plotters dealt a final blow to Theresa May as it is revealed the PM also broke down in tears before her resignation speech

Theresa May was nearly 20 minutes into Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday when the door of Andrea Leadsom’s grand Commons office swung open. Out marched Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, shorn of his usual baritone joviality, followed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss. Last out was a pensive Ms Leadsom, who turned to Ms Truss as they filed down the wood-panelled corridor behind the Speaker’s Chair and said: ‘So that’s what to do. Let’s stay in touch on the WhatsApp’. Later that evening, Ms Leadsom resigned as Commons Leader. It was the final plunge of the knife from the now notorious ‘pizza club’. The Mail on Sunday first revealed in November the cell of pro-Leave Cabinet Ministers which met in secret to try to stop Mrs May from diluting Brexit. Over boxes of takeaway pizzas, the group, which also included Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, would debate how to steer Mrs May towards a ‘purer’ Brexit – and whether to pull the plug on her premiership by resigning in concert. They even had their own WhatsApp group. Until last week, they had largely pulled their punches, with the only resignation from a group member coming when Dominic Raab quit as Brexit Secretary. But on Wednesday the mood was different. As the group sipped cups of tea and coffee, Ms Leadsom made clear her anger over Mrs May’s disastrous speech the previous day in which she had raised the prospect of holding a second referendum – an idea which was anathema to Brexiteer Ms Leadsom. – Mail on Sunday

  • ‘She really tried’: Public defend Theresa May who ‘was let down by her party’ – ITV News

Labour must back a second referendum or lose the next election, Tom Watson warns

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson today warns that his party will lose the next general election and any chance to form a radical, reforming government unless it quickly rewrites its Brexit policy and commits wholeheartedly to a second referendum. Watson’s intervention comes after the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, appeared to suggest a shift in Labour’s position towards stronger support for a second public vote. Writing in Sunday’s Observer, before tonight’s European election results, which he fears will show Remain voters have deserted to the Liberal Democrats and other pro-EU parties, Watson says Labour must develop “backbone” on Brexit as a matter of urgency. It has to end its “mealy-mouthed” backing for another public vote if it is to be in tune with its members, he writes. He also pledges to back a growing movement within the party which is demanding that Brexit policy is changed before the autumn party conference. This will give Labour enough time to campaign for a referendum with Remain on the ballot paper, before the UK is due to leave the EU at the end of October. Watson says Labour has been far too timid and unclear, infuriating its Remain voters to such an extent that lifelong supporters have deserted. “Once results are in, we must channel our frustration into preventing this mistake repeating itself and winning those voters back,” he says. “Never again can Labour policy on the most crucial issue of our generation find itself on the wrong side of its members and our voters. Never again can we find ourselves hedging our bets when we needed to make an historic choice about which side we’re on.” – Observer

  • Labour must “find backbone” and commit to second Brexit referendum – Mirror

Labour will attempt to force the next Tory Prime Minister out of office within days of entering Number 10…

Labour will attempt to force the next Tory Prime Minister out of office within days of entering Number 10. John McDonnell said the party would call a no confidence vote in the government when they take office. When asked if they would force the move, he said:  “Yes. Because we believe any incoming prime minister in these circumstance should go to the country anyway and seek a mandate.” Theresa May fought off a bid to remove the government back in January winning the vote by 325 to 306 after her Brexit deal was heavily defeated in the Commons. If the vote had been lost, a new government would have 14 days to command the support of a majority of MPs otherwise a general election is triggered. But Mr McDonnell said the new PM should immediately seek a mandate through an election. He said:  “There will be a prospect that some Conservative MPs now will think maybe we should go back to the country.” Tory MP Guto Bebb told The Times he would find it difficult to back Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab in a confidence vote if they pushed a no-deal Brexit. He told The Times:  “I will support any Conservative PM who is sober and responsible to recognise that we can only leave the EU with an agreement. – The Sun

  • Labour will call for no-confidence motion in next Tory PM, McDonnell says – Observer

…as John McDonnell predicts moderate Tory MPs will help bring down an ‘extremist’ PM pursuing a no-deal Brexit

Moderate Tory MPs will help Labour bring down an “extremist” new prime minister pursuing a no-deal Brexit, John McDonnell has predicted. The shadow chancellor – as he announced Theresa May’s successor would face an immediate vote-of-no-confidence – said there could be a “majority” in the Commons for a general election, or a Final Say referendum, in those circumstances. “We will be talking to the other political parties,” Mr McDonnell said. Asked if that included Conservative backbenchers, he replied: “Yes.” “This isn’t a matter of asking people to be disloyal to their beliefs or their party,” he told the BBC. “We’re now possibly faced with an extremist leader of the Conservative Party coming in, willing to take us over the edge of a no deal.” Mr McDonnell said: “Faced with that situation, I think there may well be a majority in the House of Commons to bring about some form of public vote – and that could include a general election.” – Independent

EU citizens denied a vote in European elections to sue the government

The government is facing the prospect of being sued by campaigners for EU citizens in the UK and British nationals abroad who were denied a vote in the European parliament elections. John Halford, a public law specialist at Bindmans, said this week’s electoral fiasco was something a democracy should not tolerate. “The right to vote is the foundation for all citizenship rights,” he said. “Last Thursday saw a large-scale, systematic, openly discriminatory denial of that right. The case we plan to bring will show that this is not something the law will tolerate and that there must be accountability and consequences.” Halford is working with the the3million group in the UK, which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens after Brexit, and also with British in Europe, which campaigns for Britons settled elsewhere in the bloc. A crowdfunding campaign was launched on Saturday to finance the legal case, which is being urgently explored in consultation with barristers, including Anneli Howard and Dinah Rose, who conducted a BBC investigation into abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile. – Observer

Change UK now open to forming pro-Remain pact with the Lib Dems

Change UK could agree with the Liberal Democrats not to stand candidates in the same constituencies at the next general election, the party’s spokesman has said. The former Labour MP Chuka Umunna said he thought a pact between the two parties “would be sensible” when asked if his recently formed party could forge an alliance with the Lib Dems, similar to that between the Social Democratic party and the Liberal party in the 1983 general election. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today on Saturday, Umunna said: “The remain forces in this country need to work even more closely together than we have managed to achieve up to this point between now and the general election. “I personally don’t think we should be competing at a general election and, of course, whilst we had a system of proportional representation at the European elections, it’s going to be first past the post in a general election, so we have got to get our ducks in a row and work out what configuration is appropriate for 2019 and beyond, instead of just perhaps using the same model from the 1980s.” – Observer

  • Chuka Umunna admits Change UK has ‘made mistakes’ ahead of its expected European elections setback – Independent

Dominic Raab: My plan to deliver Brexit – and save Britain from Corbyn

I was proud to serve in Theresa May’s Cabinet and work alongside her. We didn’t always agree on Brexit, but no one can deny her determination and integrity. She can be immensely proud of her record of service to the country she loves. The contrast between Theresa May and the self-serving expediency of Jeremy Corbyn is stark. Corbyn has done everything he can to exploit Brexit for narrow political gain. Last week, voters’ frustration with all the politicians who have failed to keep their promises on Brexit came to a head in the European elections. We will learn the results tonight, but we can expect a reckoning with voters who feel betrayed – and worse to come, if we don’t heed the warning. We can’t live in a country where politicians make promises to respect your vote in a referendum, and then junk them if they don’t like the verdict. The country feels stuck in the mud, humiliated by Brussels and incapable of finding a way forward. The Prime Minister has announced her resignation. It’s time for a new direction. That is why I will put myself forward to lead the Conservative Party and our country. I will fight for a fairer deal on Brexit, a fairer deal for British workers, and a fairer society where every child can fulfil their potential. To change the dynamic on Brexit will require leadership with conviction, a genuine belief that we can grasp the opportunities of leaving the EU. I believe I have the right plan to deliver Brexit, and honour our promises to voters. – Dominic Raab MP for the Mail on Sunday

Priti Patel: European elections results to be worst in Tories’ entire history

The European Elections should never have happened. Britons voted to leave the EU in record numbers and they expected Brexit by now. Instead we now witness the ghoulish spectacle of the public expressing their disgust at the political class and sending a message to the Conservative Party that it must change or die. Not only is the party set to have its worse result in a nationwide poll in its 180-year history but we find ourselves competing with minority parties. How on earth did it come to this? Rarely have we witnessed such a level of anger. We are witnessing the disintegration of trust in democratic institutions as the public rightly blame out-of-touch politicians who have colluded to block Brexit. Promises were made on all sides to respect the 2016 referendum result. There was a long debate and a decisive verdict. Those members of the public who voted to leave and many who voted to remain expected the result to be honoured. They yearn to see strong and clear leadership. Instead we presently have political officer holders who appear oblivious to the national crisis on Brexit that they have created. We have had a Government obsessed with winning a vote in the House of Commons on a terrible deal for our country, with MPs trying to negotiate deals with one another and an Opposition led by someone who simply has no concept of the national interest. Now, following the European Election results, our establishment cannot continue to turn a blind eye. For three years the establishment has patronised and sneered at the people but the backlash from these results cannot be ignored anymore. – Priti Patel MP for the Sunday Express

Liam Fox: We need a clearout of No 10 to replace advisers harbouring doubts over Brexit

The Conservative party is to have a new leader and the UK is to have a new Prime Minister. Theresa May behaved with dignity, good grace and honour in pursuing the national interest. Her successor will face many of the same obstacles but they will also have huge opportunities. On Brexit there will still be the same political contradictions. We have a country that voted to leave the EU but a parliament that wants to remain, even though 80 per cent of MPs, Labour and Conservative, were elected on manifesto promises to honour the result of the referendum. There will still be a minority Conservative government and an utterly cynical leader of the opposition who with brazen duplicity pretends to be a remainer in the south and a leaver in the north.  Yet, there are some potential benefits. One of the most significant will be to clear out No10 so that the PM’s advisers do not see Brexit as a problem to be solved but an opportunity to be grasped. It will be key to ensuring that we do not see the priority as being keeping as much of the EU as possible rather than deciding what best suits Britain’s long-term interests. Of course, compromises will be needed but a different starting point will usher in a new mindset. – Liam Fox MP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Daniel Hannan: The Tories may have lost their way this EU election, but I know how we can find our way back

So this is what annihilation feels like. I don’t want to jump the gun: we won’t get the results until the early hours of Monday morning. But I can tell you now that the Conservatives have been wiped out. I don’t expect to hold my seat; and, if I have lost then so, on a uniform swing, has every Tory MEP. To say that we might get the lowest share of the vote in our 185-year history would, at any other time, be an outré forecast. On this occasion, though, it doesn’t begin to express the extent of the cataclysm. Until now, the worst result my party has had is 25 per cent. If we get as much as a third of that this time, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I should stress that I haven’t seen any exit polls. I’m just extrapolating from the responses I got during the campaign – responses that imply a worse result than any of the surveys. Again and again, people told me that, sorry, there was no way they were going to endorse Theresa May. Had the prime minister announced her departure even 24 hours earlier, something might have been salvaged. Instead, her successor will inherit a smoking ruin. Yet there was something almost comically inevitable about that hapless timing.  – Daniel Hannan for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Sir Graham Brady: However disappointed or angry people are, they know that Mrs May has given it her all

A week may be a long time in politics – but there’s no need to take the mick. Events are moving fast enough to make your head spin. Since March 29, the day the UK should have left the EU, there has been a growing sense of political crisis. Brexit wasn’t happening and the government’s impressive achievements were being lost in the fog. If government was telling people about the growing economy, unemployment falling to its lowest since 1975 or the UK attracting more inward investment in the last year than any other country in the world – no-one was listening. Theresa May was rightly committed to building a majority in parliament for something that would at least complete the first stage of Brexit and allow a new leader to negotiate the future relationship without constant battles in parliament getting in the way. But when she started offering concessions to Jeremy Corbyn’s far left outfit, the mood in the Tory party darkened. As Chairman of the Parliamentary Conservative Party – the “1922 Committee” – I had to balance two very strong demands from my colleagues. Firstly, with the failure to exit the EU and the loss of so many brilliant councillors in local elections at the beginning of May, a majority of Conservative MPs had decided that a change of leader was essential. Secondly, most of my colleagues also took the view that Theresa should be allowed the space to leave the stage with dignity. I can now consider my position unconstrained. Whoever stands – and whoever wins, the task is a big one. It is nothing less than restoring the broken trust in British politics. We have to leave the EU as we promised we would and then get back to a radical agenda to let people take back control of their lives. Politicians need to talk less about social mobility and do more to make sure that everyone in our great country can make the most of their talents. – Sir Graham Brady MP for The Sun

Sunday Telegraph: Tories must choose a leader with a credible plan for a proper Brexit

Now that Theresa May has announced her resignation – and we wish her the very best for the future – the Tories need to pick a successor who has a credible, detailed pan for a genuine departure from the EU. They must not repeat Mrs May’s catastrophic errors of judgement, management, strategy and tactics: on their very first day in office, the next prime minister will need to bring in a team of advisers that can help grab control of the machinery of government. They will need to put all of its resources and brainpower behind no-deal planning, in a “shock and awe” approach at odds with everything we’ve seen so far. Much of this planning will have to be about finding mitigating measures, of course, but we also need positive thinking: an emergency Budget designed to maximize all of the new opportunities. High-profile trade talks will need to begin; plans for free ports announced; a strategy to slash taxes to woo as much capital and talent from Europe as possible. It will need to be obvious to the EU that we aren’t joking any more. Once, and only once this is in train, the new PM will need to reopen negotiations with the EU to see whether some acceptable withdrawal agreement compatible with a real Brexit is possible. – Sunday Telegraph (£) editorial

Janet Daley: What the country needs now is a grown-up who believes in Brexit

We desperately need grown-ups now. Whoever is to fill this immediate vacuum – and all those who even declare themselves willing to make the attempt – will have to meet this absolutely indispensable requirement. Every word they utter and every move they make will have to be judicious, responsible and generous. Assuming that the next leader has been – because this must be the case – committed absolutely to leaving the EU, the generosity is particularly crucial: it will have to extend even to implacable critics, and to the irreconcilable Remain contingent in Parliament and in the country. Reconciliation – which is not the same thing as compromise – must be paramount. The open contempt with which a huge swathe (indeed, a majority) of the population has been treated by Remain political groupies – particularly in the media – has made an unforgettable impression. Words and arguments are going to be very important in this next chapter: over the coming weeks, the contenders will have to prove that they can talk the talk that matters both at home and in Brussels. There has never been a moment in Britain’s post-war history when the force of language has been more central to our political survival. It was, as much as anything, her abject inability to use it that cost Mrs May her job. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

Rod Liddle: Shed no tears for Theresa May — she’s not a victim of events but an abject failure

Why she didn’t go long before, why she kept putting herself through it, defeat after defeat after defeat. That ashen face, greying by the week. The voice so often on the cusp of breaking. Off to Brussels to be derided and pitied; back to the House to be defeated, time and again. The judgments from the newspapers — the worst prime minister in history. Useless. Destroying the party, destroying Brexit and destroying the country. The toll all that stuff must have taken — friendless in her own party; an object of appalled mirth in the country at large. If they ever make a film of these three years, I don’t know who would play Theresa May. Robin Williams is sadly dead, but he’d have been about right. Why did she carry on? Through a commendable sense of duty, is the generous answer. Dragging that rotting deal from its noisome crypt out into the glare of sunlight, over and over again. Managing, uniquely, to unite remainers and leavers in agreement that it was the worst deal since the Russkies said: “Alaska? Nah, don’t have a use for it. Why don’t you have it, America?” That ashen face. The cracked voice. The sheer exhaustion. You’d need to be a psychopath not to feel for her and perhaps even to experience a certain amount of weird admiration. But I don’t quite buy the kindly judgment that she was simply a victim of intractable parliamentary maths, more sinned against than sinning, much though I would like to cheer her up a bit. In truth, her mistakes were grave, legion and at times utterly unnecessary. She brought this misery upon herself, her party and the country. Her heart was never in Brexit (as Brussels knew, to its advantage), even if it was in the process of Brexit. But even in the process she failed, crucially — yielding the sequencing of negotiations to Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk et al. – Sunday Times (£)

Tony Parsons: Theresa May brought duty, courage and patriotism, but it just wasn’t enough

You would need a very hard heart to not be moved by Theresa May’s resignation speech. Theresa has long been derided as the Maybot — a cold, unfeeling automaton who doesn’t really do human empathy. But standing in the sunshine outside 10 Downing Street on Friday, she seemed all too human, all too vulnerable, painfully fragile. Many will mock the tears of Theresa. Not me. She held it together right to the end, then it all fell apart when she talked about her love for this country. You would need a very hard heart — and small brain — to doubt that love, that patriotism, that sense of duty. Theresa May seemed — lest we forget — like the perfect choice to lead the Tories (and the country) in the messy aftermath of Brexit. Here was a reluctant, pragmatic Remainer — yes, she campaigned to stay in the EU but with none of the mouth-foaming, eye-swivelling ideological fanaticism of, say, George Osborne. I never doubted that she loved this country. And even after the cock-up she has made of Brexit, I still don’t doubt her patriotism. And Theresa had one thing that David Cameron lacked. A spine. But everything she brought to the table — her duty, her courage, her patriotism — was not enough. – Tony Parsons for The Sun

Brexit in Brief

  • Theresa May’s tears made me cry too… for a minute – Carole Malone for the Sunday Express
  • Tory bosses demand contenders face public grilling if they want Theresa May’s job – Sunday Express
  • Ed Miliband changes his Twitter name to mock chaos in the Tory party – iNews