Theresa May slams MPs and tells public: ‘I’m on your side’
Prime minister accused of ‘arrogance’ after Downing Street address
Theresa May has told the public she is “on their side” and blamed the Brexit deadlock on MPs.
Speaking at the lectern inside 10 Downing Street, the prime minister said the nation was “tired of infighting and political games” and it was “high time” parliament found a way forward.
Earlier, she had written to EU Council President Donald Tusk requesting to delay Brexit until 30 June, describing the potential extension as a “matter of great personal regret”.
“I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June,” she declared last night.
In response to the note, Tusk said he believed Brussels would agree to a short extension, but only if May's deal passes the Commons next week.
“May has pitched herself tonight against Parliament on the side of the people,” said the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
MPs openly questioned the merit of her podium appearance - fellow Conservative Connor Burns asked: “What was actually the point of that?” - but allies said she felt it imperitive to lay out the line she is not willing to cross as prime minister, says Kuenssberg.
Jeremy Corbyn said she was “in complete denial about the scale of the crisis”, but Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, was perhaps the most damning, dubbing the prime minister a “Trump wannabe”.
May told the nation: “Of this I am absolutely sure. You, the public, have had enough.”
She said the public has “real concerns about our children's schools, our National Health Service, knife crime. You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with. I agree.”
She flies to Brussels today to ask EU leaders to push back the date Britain leaves the bloc.
Tusk has suggested there could be a special summit called next week to rule on the extension, or European Union leaders could do it in writing.
Tory Brexiteers have pointed out that the UK could leave the EU as planned, but without a deal. “We can leave on the 29 March - on time, as planned, as promised,” said Tom Pursglove MP. “There is absolutely no need to delay. The ball is in her court.”
Meanwhile, in The Daily Telegraph, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage did not mince his words, saying: “If Theresa May buckles and delays Brexit, I will do my best to tear her party limb from limb.”