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Theresa May gives emotional speech asking backbench MPs for support

Theresa May gives emotional speech asking backbench MPs for support

Theresa May has delivered an “emotional” address to backbench Tory MPs following talk of attempts to oust her as Prime Minister.

Mrs May “won the room” and secured her position with a “heartfelt” speech to the backbench 1922 committee, former home secretary Amber Rudd said.

Leave-backing MP Michael Fabricant called the gathering a “love-in” for Mrs May.

The PM’s address came after a torrid week in which an anonymous MP was quoted as saying Mrs May should “bring her own noose” to the meeting.

Ms Rudd praised the PM, saying: “She got a warm welcome, she talked quite emotionally about why she was doing this for the good of the country and how it was important that the public and our party members realise that we are behind her and that we all wanted the same thing – which is to lead in the best interests of the country.”

Asked if the PM looked emotional, Ms Rudd said: “Well she looked like she really minded – it wasn’t reading from a script.”

“She was talking frankly and honestly from the heart about why she was doing this and why it mattered.”

Ms Rudd said a lot of MPs condemned the “really nasty language” that had been used in the run-up to the meeting.

Amid claims that the number of letters to the chairman of the 1922 committee from MPs calling for a vote of no confidence in the PM was close to the 48 level needed to trigger a ballot, Ms Rudd insisted Mrs May’s position was now safe.

Ms Rudd said: “She was able to win the room and deliver something quite personal and emotional about why she was committed to doing it, despite being quite frank about the difficulties that were still there.”

“People spoke very freely about their concerns… but they came back to the fact that they backed her in delivering for the country and the Government.”

Mr Fabricant said: “It wasn’t Daniella in the lions’ den – it was a petting zoo.”

However, pro-Europe ex-Cabinet minister Nicky Morgan said the Tories would have a new leader within a year.

Asked if the PM had her backing, she told ITV’s Peston: “She has, absolutely, for now. But, I think, we’ll probably, in the course of the next 12 months, we’ll be looking for a new leader.”

The meeting came after fresh revelations about the Government’s plans for a no-deal Brexit, with alternative measures to secure supplies of food and medicines from the continent being investigated in case of chaos on the English Channel crossing.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire defended the move.

He told ITV’s Peston: “I think that’s what governments should be doing in preparation in terms of dealing with the issues that could arise.”

“It is not a situation that we want to get into.”

“The Prime Minister remains focused on negotiating that right outcome which is the deal.”

“But, ultimately, yes, of course, we don’t want to end up in a situation, but we must be ready. We need to be prepared.”

In developments that will cause further unease among Tory Brexiteers, leaked Cabinet papers obtained by The Times indicated the transition period during which the UK will remain tied to Brussels could turn into a “long-running” arrangement lasting years.

But Mrs May firmly rejected reports the Government was willing to agree that the European Court of Justice should be the final arbiter in most disputes arising from Brexit.

European Council president Donald Tusk told MEPs in Strasbourg that Mrs May had raised the prospect of an extension at last week’s Brussels summit.

He added “If the UK decided that such an extension would be helpful to reach a deal, I’m sure that the leaders would be ready to consider it positively.”

Mr Tusk also said he was ready to convene a special Brexit summit if negotiator Michel Barnier reported “decisive” progress had been made in talks – but made clear this was not yet the case.

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