Brexit deal: five ministers lobby May to renegotiate draft text

Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons

Five Eurosceptic cabinet ministers are pressing Theresa May to make last-minute changes to her controversial Brexit deal.

Having opted to remain in the government, Michael Gove will work with other Brexit-backing cabinet ministers to urge the prime minister to seek to go back to Brussels and renegotiate, in particular over the Irish backstop, Whitehall sources say.

The leader of the Commons, Andrea Leadsom, is expected to convene a meeting early next week with Gove, Liam Fox, Penny Mordaunt, Chris Grayling and potentially others who share their views.

They are then expected to press May to try to improve the details of the withdrawal agreement that deal with exiting the backstop.

Asked if pizza would be served, one source said: “Maybe less pizza, more getting down to business.”

Quick guide

How would the Tories trigger a leadership contest?

No-confidence proceedings

Forty-eight Conservative MPs would need to back a no-confidence vote in Theresa May to trigger a leadership contest, according to party rules.

There are two ways a contest can be triggered, most obviously if the leader of the party resigns. If they do not, 15% of Conservative MPs must write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tories. With the party’s current crop of 317 MPs, 48 would be needed.

After David Cameron announced his resignation, five Tory MPs stood for the leadership. Unlike Labour party rules, under which candidates go to a ballot of members as long as they have the support of 15% of the party’s MPs, Conservative candidates are whittled down to a final two before party members have their say.

The ballot is based on “one member, one vote”, but in 2016 one of the final two candidates, Andrea Leadsom, withdrew from the race after a damaging interview with the Times about the fact that May did not have children. Her withdrawal meant May was made party leader without having been elected by members.

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Questioned in her constituency by Sky News, Leadsom said she was “absolutely determined to support the PM in getting the best possible deal for the UK as we leave the EU”.

She added: “There is still more to be done and we do still have more time before the EU council [meeting] at the end of the month, so I’m…

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