Tory unity on Brexit?

The Prime Minister is struggling to unite her party

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Can Theresa May bring her party together on Brexit?

By Joe Harker

Brexit is less than 7000 hours away and the UK hasn't got a plan sorted out yet.

Some of the government's suggestions for certain issues like the Irish border have been dismissed by the EU as unworkable and the lack of unity from the Conservative party is not helping.

Different factions want different types of Brexit and the Prime Minister is being pulled in two directions by infighting in her own party. The inability to present a united front on Brexit is hampering the government at the negotiating table and Theresa May has had enough.

She has called on dissenting backbenchers in her party to unite for an important series of votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill. The BBC reports that Theresa May will tell MPs that it is their duty "to deliver on Brexit" and that means getting behind the government.

The EU Withdrawal Bill is the main piece of legislation the government needs to pass to get their Brexit plan working. The House of Lords made a number of amendments to the bill which will now be voted on and defeat would be a major blow to Theresa May, who wants to get rid of most of the amendments in upcoming votes.

The two main amendments the government wants removed are the ones that give Parliament a decisive vote on the final Brexit deal and demand that Theresa May negotiates about a customs union with the EU.

The Tories already need the help of the DUP to get a majority in the House of Commons so May cannot allow any dissenters within her own party. Theresa May's aim is to overturn 14 of the 15 amendments the House of Lords added to the EU Withdrawal Bill, most of which would keep a closer relationship between the UK and EU than the government desires.

The Guardian reports that the Prime Minister will win the support of the "stop Boris" brigade. Dissenting Tory MPs fear that a serious defeat on the EU Withdrawal Bill could trigger a leadership contest and oust Theresa May, paving the way for Boris Johnson to take over. They are willing to drop their protests and back the PM to avoid weakening her further.

Many of the Tory rebels back Remain and acknowledge that whoever replaces Theresa May would likely be a supporter of hard Brexit. They would rather back a deal that they don't like than have someone like Boris Johnson or Michael Gove running the country.

However, the New Statesman argues that Brexiteers in the Tory party should not attempt to get rid of Theresa May, believing her departure would create more problems than solutions. They say there is "little mainstream appetite" for a leadership contest outside the ringleaders who want to oust May and insist that a new Prime Minister would not change the fact that the UK has not found a solution to several issues on Brexit such as the Irish border.

Getting rid of Theresa May and bringing in a hard Brexiteer won't be a magic bullet to problems that don't appear to have a solution, but if she cannot bring her party together for key votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill then her position will be even weaker.

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Theresa May in appeal for Tory unity on Brexit

Theresa May will appeal for a show of unity from her warring MPs as she seeks to avoid a series of damaging Commons defeats on the Government's centrepiece Brexit legislation.

The EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns to the Commons on Tuesday with ministers seeking to overturn a raft of amendments by the House of Lords intended to keep Britain close to the EU after Brexit.

However, they face a revolt by pro-EU Tory MPs determined to retain as many of the changes as possible in the legislation.

In what is likely to be a highly-charged appearance before the backbench 1922 Committee on Monday, the Prime Minister will remind her MPs they have a duty to deliver on the referendum vote to leave the EU.

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